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Group Dominance and the Half-Blindness of Privilege


  • This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant DGE-0753455 awarded to the second author. The authors thank Tom Wood for writing the email survey program used to collect Samples 5 and 6, Paddy McGowan for creating the email sample used for Sample 7, Dr. Peter M. Smith for technical support, and Jim Sidanius for sharing the data from Samples 1 and 3.

Dr. Felicia Pratto, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Storrs, CT 06269–1020 [].


Two psychological reasons that powerful groups are socially privileged are (1) powerful groups are culturally and mentally normalized, which disguises their privilege as “normal” while highlighting inferiority and stereotypes about other groups, and (2) affiliating with own-groups and promoting their power are more psychologically compatible for dominant groups than for subordinated groups. Prior research concerning social categories defined by gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and race is summarized to illustrate how social category norms focus people's attention away from powerful groups and their privileges. The present research shows that, for race, gender, class, and sexual orientation in the U.S., own group membership is more salient, and works less well in promoting own group power and group dominance for members of subordinated than of dominant groups. Implications for why group privilege is not mutually recognized by dominant and subordinated groups, and for how this may translate into support for different social policies are discussed.