Group differences in the legitimization of inequality: questioning the role of social dominance orientation

Samuel Pehrson, Héctor Carvacho, Chris G. Sibley

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Social dominance orientation (SDO) is conceived as an individual’s level of support for group-based hierarchy in general that causes support for more specific group hierarchies.According to social dominance theory, group differences in SDO underpin ideological and behavioural group differences related to specific group hierarchies. Using representative 5-year longitudinal panel data from New Zealand (N=3384), we test whether SDO mediates effects of sex and ethnicity on legitimising myths (LMs) relating to gender and ethnic hierarchy over time.The SDO mediation hypothesis is supported in the case of hostile sexism. However, it is unsupported in the case of benevolent sexism and LMs relating to ethnic hierarchy, where there was no cross-lagged effect on SDO. Moreover, being in the dominant ethnic group is associated with more legitimization of ethnic hierarchy but less legitimisation of gender hierarchy, which is inconsistent with the notion of a general orientation underpinning group differences in legitimation. There was mixed evidence for a reverse path whereby specific LMs mediate group differences in SDO across time. We argue for the need to find alternative ways to theorise ideological consensus and difference between groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-46
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Benevolent sexism
  • Hostile sexism
  • Individual differences
  • Intergroup relations
  • Historical negation
  • New Zealand
  • Prejudice
  • Social dominance orientation


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