This weekend I plan to do some reading around the following acronyms relating to personality traits that prop up the kyriarchy:
- RWA – Right Wing Authoritarianism
– characterised by subservience to authority figures
– conceptualized by Bob Altemeyer, as a refinement of the authoritarian personality theory originally pioneered by University of California at Berkeley researchers Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford
- SDO – Social Dominance Orientation
– characterised by a desire to sustain structural inequality in order to maintain one’s ingroup at the top
– conceptualized by Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto as the key measurable component specific to their Social Dominance Theory (SDT)
SDO correlates weakly with right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) (r ? .18). Both predict attitudes, such as sexist, racist, and heterosexist attitudes. The two contribute to different forms of prejudice; SDO correlates to higher prejudice against “derogated” groups, RWA correlates to higher prejudice against “dangerous” groups, while both are associated with increases in prejudice for “dissident” groups. SDO and RWA contribute to prejudice in an additive rather than interactive way (the interaction[clarification needed] of SDO and RWA accounted, in one study, for an average of less than .001% variance in addition to their linear combination), that is the association between SDO and prejudice is similar regardless of a person’s level of RWA, and vice versa. However, little research has been done relating directly to behavior. (Wikipedia)
I’ll also be doing some reading on the Backfire Effect, because both RWA and SDO traits are especially prone to this particular cognitive bias. I’m also very interested in looking up some work by Australian sociologist Karen Stenner [pdf], who specializes in authoritarianism, racism and intolerance; her description of the major differences between conservatism (primarily values stability) and authoritarianism (primarily values conformity) sounds quite fascinating.
Yep, it’s know your Enemy weekend.
Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, Science, social justice
Eeee! My world! I did a lot of my undergraduate work on these (fascinating) personality dimensions/attitude orientations (jury is actually still out on exactly what they constitute and how embedded/innate they are). My current research has drifted somewhat into another area of attitude formation (dehumanization), but I’m still very into these concepts and I always wondered if they would be seen as relevant by other social justice activists (it’s all one big pot of awesome to me, but I’m biased).
In particular, I am really interested in the way that SDO can be very context-specific. The original conception of the orientation by Pratto and colleagues was that SDO represented a general orientation regardless of the specific groups being considered, but there’s been some other really neat research which tweaks this part of the theory and suggests that it *does* depend on what group reference is being considered. For example, some researchers found that if they got a bunch of participants of different ethnicities but the same nationality (I think in this case the study was based in China) to think of themselves in terms of national identity through subtle priming, then there were no differences in terms of their SDO scores between the different ethnic groups represented. But if they were instead primed to think of themselves in terms of their specific ethnic identities, then the participants in the dominating ethnic group had on average high SDO scores than the participants in the subordinated ethnic groups. Very cool stuff.
There was also a massive meta-analysis and lit review done by a guy name Jost a few years back (2002?) on conservatism as a psychological construct that was very informative. Oh, here it is: http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/jost.glaser.political-conservatism-as-motivated-social-cog.pdf Somewhat technical, but awesome.
/social psych nerd freak-out
Ooh, Jadey – more reading goodness! Thanks for dropping the link.
So SDO can be primed in much the same way as stereotype-threat works? That’s really interesting.
Jadey! If your current research is on dehumanization you are exactly the person I need. I am writing an article on the way Shakespeare sets up parallels in the way both women and enemies in war are dehumanized by being seen as their fragmented body parts, in Troilus and Cressida. Is there anyone who has written specifically on the link between the way both women and enemies are subjected to the same techniques of othering, in order to make it easier to harm them, that I’ll look like a fool if I don’t quote?
Eep! Unfortunately I am only researching one aspect of dehumanization as it intersects with another interest of mine (can’t be more specific without risking identity disclosure, unfortunately), so I’m not really familiar with the literature on it outside of this one slice of psych research that I’ve been focusing on. So I don’t have a specific reference on hand that would meet your needs, but you might try looking into Bandura’s work around moral disengagement (for which dehumanization is one mechanism), which is all about how we cognitively justify hurting other people. I don’t know if anyone has made the specific woman/enemies comparison you mentioned, but it’s worth a shot! The wikipedia page for moral disengagement is a good primer and might be able to point you in the right direction.
It can! Although I’ve heard tell that the original authors like to downplay this as it doesn’t fit their own conception of the theory… Too bad.
If you can access them, some of the particular articles I had in mind about contextual influences on SDO were:
Guimond, S., Dambrun, M., Michinov, N., & Duarte, S. (2003). Does social dominance generate prejudice? Integrating individual and contextual determinants of intergroup cognitions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 697-721.
Huang, L.-L. & Liu, J. H. (2005). Personality and social structural implications of the situational priming of social dominance orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 267-276.
Schmitt, M. T., Branscombe, N. R., & Kappen, D. M. (2003). Attitudes toward group-based inequality: Social dominance or social identity?. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 161-186.
Wilson, S. M. & Liu, J. H. (2003). Social dominance theory comes of age, and so must change: A reply to Sidianus & Pratto and Turner & Reynolds. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 221-223.
That’s from a few years ago, so there are hopefully more now. I thought I even heard rumblings of a meta-analysis, but haven’t found it yet. I tried to do my own study in this vein a few years ago but had problems with data collection and then switched institutions and got sucked into a million new projects. One day I shall return to it!
RWA is interesting too, though it blows my mind a little that Bob Altemeyer has essentially built his entire career around this one construct. He’s constantly refining and updating it – the items for it are a little strange though once you get reading them. Very strongly worded and explicitly political, you wonder how anyone ever strongly agrees with them! I’ve also seen some research poking at the idea that RWA is as unitary a construct as Altemeyer has said – he describes it as a unified concept with three intertwined aspects (deference to authority, adherence to tradition, and aggression toward non-conformists), but I’ve seen a couple of studies that were able to separate these factors out from each other into more basic elements. It’s all so complicated and wonderful.
Another interesting thing that I came across once (and which I think I detected in my own research) is that the correlation between SDO and RWA can actually vary, and this has been attributed to the degree of political polarization in whatever context the research is being conducted in, such that when its a highly left-right polarized political context, RWA and SDO scores can be much more highly correlated than when the political context has more grey area (like a difference from r = .60 to r = .20, or a large versus medium effect size – I don’t want to get into all the stats around that, but it’s a big difference!). I haven’t seen that one replicated, but I remember I collected during a very big national election season once and got a much higher correlation on SDO and RWA than I had expected.
uhm… I’m doing the nerd-gasm thing again.