Meaningful Participation As an Additional Motivation to System Justify

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Ondrej BUCHEL, University of Trento, Italy
System Justification Theory (SJT) predicts people in lower status to perceive the social system as more legitimate than those in higher status. Extant research using representative data has provided mixed support for the hypothesis, with Brandt (2013) questioning the very existence of the proposed phenomena. Findings from experimental designs suggests differences in effects of objective and subjective socio-economic status (SES) on system-justifying attitudes. The present paper elaborates on possible pathways translating actual status into system-legitimizing attitudes and suggests an operationalization capturing subjective interpretation of SES using accessible secondary data. An elevated motivation to legitimize the system is found among those with lower SES in a global sample (World Values Survey). When subjective status and well-being were controlled for, residual effect of actual position turned negative, indicating that while higher status leads to higher confidence in societal institutions through positive experience and perhaps positive expectations, lower status is associated with additional motivation to see the societal institutions as worthy of having confidence in.

With data supporting only on the 'weak version' of status-legitimacy hypothesis, possible interpretations of the findings are discussed. The second analysis presents support for a notion that motivation to perceive own continued participation within the system as meaningful may motivate endorsement of system-justifying beliefs. Controlling for multiple measures of status, self-assessed status and satisfaction, the relationship between household income and support of participation-justifying beliefs remained in negative association - suggesting that those with lower salaries tend to utilize additional justifications to explain and rationalize their continued participation within the system.