Role of Information in System Justifying Attitudes
Gampa, Anup, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nosek, Brian, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Wealth inequality in the US is at unprecedented levels and yet we don’t see the kind of resistance to it that one might expect, especially from the oppressed. System Justification Theory (SJT) argues that people are motivated to justify the systems one belongs to—even if the systems are unjust. In fact, SJT postulates that one would become more defensive of the system when inequality in the system is highlighted. I propose, instead, that one’s uncritical attitudes towards a system can partly be explained as a result of lack of adequate information about the system. Across four studies, I show that (1) the average US citizen agrees that inequality in the US economy is too high, (2) one becomes more critical of the inequality when one is presented with information about inequality in the system, (3) the oppressed are not more willing to justify the inequalities in the system, (4) the oppressed might be less informed of the inequality in the system—potentially resulting in being less critical, and (5) feeling excluded and insecure about future income prospects doesn’t necessarily prevent one from seeking information critical of the system.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
system justification, inequality, information