Social Dominance Orientation, Hierarchy Attenuators and Hierarchy Enhancers: Social Dominance Theory and the Criminal Justice System


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Jim Sidanius, Department of Psychology, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1563.


This study investigated differences in social dominance orientation between incumbents of different social roles (police officers vs. public defenders) and ethnic groups known to differ in general social status (i.e., whites vs. blacks and Hispanics). Consistent with theoretical expectations: (a) Police were significantly more social-dominance oriented than either jurors or public defenders. (b) Public defenders tended to be less social-dominance oriented than jurors. (c) Euro-Americans were significantly more social dominance oriented than Afro- and Hispanic-Americans, (d) Euro-American police officers had, by far, the highest levels of social dominance orientation. Furthermore, all of the effects above held even when controlling for demographic factors such as gender, social class, age, education, and ethnic group. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.