International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Is system derogation the flip side of system justification?

Sven van de Wetering, University of the Fraser Valley; Andrea Hughes, Department of Psychology, University of the Fraser Valley

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of the Fraser Valley
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

This study examines the political psychological phenomenon of system justification.  System justification has been postulated to underlie a number of social psychological processes such as stereotyping and other dynamic processes relating to social attitudes.  However, many of the psychological phenomena that have been attributed to system justification processes appear to be special cases of cognitive dissonance.  Accordingly, the current study was designed to use manipulations similar to those used by Kay et al (2009) to arouse system justification, except that cognitive dissonance was such that we expected to obtain system derogation.  We had participants read descriptions of the partial privatization of the Canadian health care system that either emphasized (high dissonance condition) or failed to emphasize (low dissonance condition) the unfairness that sometimes results from such privatization.  We also manipulated perceived dependence on the health care system by either making salient (low dependence condition) or failing to make salient (high dependence condition) the role of exercise in maintaining health.  It was anticipated that system derogation would be strongest for participants in the high dissonance, high dependence conditions.  However, no statistically reliable effects were found.  At this time, a second study with stronger manipulations is in preparation.