Attitudes toward group-based inequality: Social dominance or social identity?


Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1364, USA.


In five studies we explored how the context in which people think about the social structure and the implications of the social structure for one's in-group affect attitudes toward inequality. In Studies 1 and 2 we found that social dominance orientation (SDO) scores reflect attitudes toward specific types of inequality that are salient in context. Consistent with social identity theory, in Studies 3 to 5 we found that SDO scores reflected the interests of specific group identities. Indeed, when we compared existing privileged and disadvantaged groups, and when we manipulated in-group status, we found that participants held more positive attitudes toward inequality when the in-group was privileged, compared to when the in-group was disadvantaged. Across all of our studies, results were consistent with the contention that attitudes toward inequality are group-specific and depend on the social-structural position of salient in-groups. We discuss the implications of our findings for social dominance theory.