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The Ideological Legitimation of the Status Quo: Longitudinal Tests of a Social Dominance Model

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Abstract

Four studies examined whether members of the dominant group (New Zealand Europeans) who were high in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) employed ideologies of equality-as-meritocracy to legitimate opposition toward policy-based resource allocations that favor disadvantaged groups. We tested this model, derived from Social Dominance Theory, using cross-sectional (Study 1; N = 338) and longitudinal data (Studies 2–4) collected in New Zealand. As predicted, SDO (but not Right-Wing Authoritarianism) exerted a cross-lagged effect on Equality Positioning and not vice-versa (Study 2; 1 year, N = 81); Equality Positioning exerted a cross-lagged effect on attitudes toward resource-specific social policies but not vice-versa (Study 3; 4 months, N = 132); and the cross-lagged effect of SDO on attitudes toward resource-specific policy was mediated longitudinally by Equality Positioning (Study 4; 1 year, N = 47). These findings indicate that the ideological positioning of equality is (at least partially) driven by individual differences in the motivation for group-based social dominance, and this in turn determines support for social and political policies that govern the group-based allocation of resources within society and thus systemic inequality.

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