A Comparison of Social Dominance Theory and System Justification: The Role of Social Status in 19 Nations

Salvador Vargas-Salfate, Dario Paez, James H. Liu, Felicia Pratto, Homero Gil de Zuniga

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87 Scopus citations


This study tests specific competing hypotheses from social dominance theory/realistic conflict theory (RCT) versus system justification theory about the role of social status. In particular, it examines whether system justification belief and effects are stronger among people with low socioeconomic status, and in less socially developed and unequal nations than among better-off people and countries. A cross-national survey was carried out in 19 nations from the Americas, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Oceania using representative online samples (N = 14,936, 50.15% women, Mage = 41.61 years). At the individual level, system justification beliefs, right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, national identification, sociopolitical conservatism, sex, age, and social status were measured. At the national level, the human development index and the Gini index were used. Multilevel analyses performed indicated that results fit better with the social dominance/RCT approach, as system justification was higher in high-status and developed nations; further, associations between legitimizing ideologies and system justification were stronger among high-status people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1060-1076
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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