Non-Conscious Forms of System Justification: Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Preferences for Higher Status Groups

By John T. JostBrett W. PelhamMauricio R. Carvallo
2000| Working Paper No. 1626

According to system justification theory, which complement theories of similarity, social identification, and homophily, people internalize and perpetuate systemic forms of inequality, event if it means harboring preference for members of higher status outgroups. In Study 1, students from a high status (but not a low status) university exhibited significant ingroup favoritism o an automatic evaluative measure (the IAT), which was positively correlated with implicit self-esteem for high status group members only. For students at the low status university, implicit acceptance of consensual stereotypes concerning academic and extracurricular characteristics was associated with implicit outgroup favoritism on a separate, affective measure. In Study 2, Hispanic and Asian Americans exhibited significant outgroup favoritism on an unobtrusive behavioral measure by preferring to interact with Whites rather than members of their own group. In Study 3, parents were shown to name newborn children disproportionately after their fathers (compared with their mothers) and to publish birth announcements for boys more often than for girls. Thus, evidence of non-conscious system justification is presented on unobtrusive measures of cognition, affect, and behavior in three different contexts of social inequality.