International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

2F Controversies in Social Dominance Theory

(Session Organizer) Felicia Pratto, University of Connecticut; (Chair) Andrew Lee Stewart, University of Connecticut; (Discussant) Alain Van Hiel, Ghent University; (Chai

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of Connecticut
Research Area: Intergroup relations

Since its 1989 introduction, social dominance theory (SDT) has generated a good deal of research and criticism. SDT notes that most stable societies are group-based dominance hierarchies, and argues that ideological support for institutional practices, including systematic group discrimination and use of force against subordinate groups, helps to maintain such social stability. To understand whether ideologies are hierarchy-enhancing or hierarchy-attenuating, SDT uses an empirical measure of individuals’ tolerance of group dominance, called social dominance orientation (SDO). The present symposium presents new research and theory to address some contemporary criticisms of SDT. The first two papers address controversies surrounding the SDO construct (Pratto et al., 1994), which has been shown to account for a substantial proportion of variance in individual prejudice, stereotyping, ideological endorsement, and support for discriminatory or hierarchy-attenuating policies and practices.  First, Kteily et al. address the idea that SDO is a product, rather than a predictor of prejudice (e.g., Guimond et al, 2003), using a longitudinal sample measured over 5 years. Second, using 5 samples, Ho et al. consider whether the pro-trait (SDO-Dominance) and con-trait (SDO-Egalitarianism) halves of the SDO scale are conceptually and empirically different (Jost & Thompson, 2000).   Third, Aiello et al. consider whether harsh or soft influence tactics (Raven, 1993) serve as legitimizing myths within work organizations and the relation of intergroup power to interpersonal power. Finally, Stewart et al. consider how SDT and other theories analyze social change and provide a new way to conceptualize social change as a process involving the interaction of ideology and intergroup behavior, constrained by the social-ecology.