Dominance, Subordination, and Concepts of Personal Entitlements in Cultural Contexts


  • This research was supported by a fellowship from the Wolf Foundation, Israel, to the first author and by funding to the second author from the Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley. Thanks are due to Raida Daim, Voula Khayat, Samir Halabi, and Shmuel Weinstein for their assistance with data collection.

should be addressed to Cecilia Wainryb, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, or to Elliot Turiel, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.


In 2 studies, we assessed concepts of personal entitlements in more and less hierarchically organized cultures. Study 1 assessed the judgments of 88 adolescent and adult males (mean ages 17-6 and 34-7) from Druze and Jewish communities in Israel. Subjects were presented with conflict situations in which a person in a dominant position (husband, father) objects to the activities of a family member in a subordinate position (wife, daughter, son), and vice versa. Druze subjects attributed more power than Jewish subjects to husbands and fathers over wives and daughters, but concepts of personal entitlements were prominent in both groups. Study 2 assessed the judgements of Druze females (mean ages 12-10, 17-5, and 38-6). Results show that females accept the legitimacy of males' power and personal autonomy, recognize the consequences for those in subordinate positions, and regard the existing social arrangements as unfair. Overall, the findings indicate that social reasoning is heterogeneous in different types of cultures.