Group Justification and System Justification as Distinct Components of Social Dominance Orientation among African Americans and European Americans

By John T. JostErik P. Thompson
1997| Working Paper No. 1472

Social dominance orientation (SDO) has been found to predict racism, sexism, political conservatism, and a variety of other “hierarchy enhancing” attitudes and behaviors (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallwork, and Malle, 1994). On the basis of system justification theory (Jost & Banaji, 1994), it is argued that SDO is comprised of two distinct components that may be refered to as “group justification” (attitudes that favor one’s own group) and “system justification” (attitudes that preserve existing social hierarchies). Although the original SDO scale was constructed to be unidimensional, results from Studies 1 & 2 suggest that a two-factor solution provides a better comparative fit of the data than a one-factor solutin and that items appear to load onto separate “group justification” (GJ) and “system justification” (SJ) factors. Of greater theoretical interest, inter-factor correlations were found to be higher for European American than for African American respondents, and sytem justification factors scores were related more positively to self-esteem and ethnocentrism among European Americans than among African Americans. Studies 3 and 4 employed a modified version of the SDO scale in which equal numbers of positively and negatively worded GJ and SJ items were used. Results indicated that both item content and positive vs. negative wording affected the factor structure of the scale but that GJ and SJ scores continued to differentiate European Americans and African Americans in terms of inter-factor correlations and relations to self-esteem and ethnocentrism.