International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

The Effects of System Justifying Motives on Endorsement of Biological Explanations for Gender Differ

Victoria L Brescoll, Yale University School of Management; Eric Luis Uhlmann, HEC Paris

Conference: ISPP 2011
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

Three studies demonstrated that people endorse biological explanations for gender differences when doing so is consistent with an implicitly activated goal to justify the social system. In Experiment 1, a diffuse threat to the existing social order (i.e., reading that American society was falling apart) increased both male and female participants’ endorsement of biological attributions for gender differences. In Experiment 2, both male and female participants implicitly primed with a system justification goal were significantly more likely to agree with the biological position on gender differences in a debate between two scientists. In Experiment 3, a system threat led to increased endorsement of biological attributions for gender differences only when biological influences were portrayed as immutable, thus helping to uncover the process underlying this phenomenon.