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Further evidence that system justification amongst the disadvantaged is positively related to superordinate group identification

Owuamalam, Chuma K. and Caricati, Luca and Spears, Russell and Rubin, Mark and Marinucci, Marco and Ferrari, Alessia (2023) 'Further evidence that system justification amongst the disadvantaged is positively related to superordinate group identification.', Acta Psychologica, 232 . p. 103813.


Members of disadvantaged groups sometimes support societal systems that enable the very inequalities that disadvantaged them. Is it possible to explain this puzzling system-justifying orientation in terms of rational group-interested motives, without recourse to a separate system motive? The social identity model of system attitudes (SIMSA) claims that it is. SIMSA proposes that the system justification shown by a disadvantaged group (e.g., African American women) can sometimes support identity needs that are tied to a more inclusive (superordinate) in-group (e.g., Americans). There is already some supportive evidence for this proposition, but it is not yet clear whether: (1) such trends are visible in a wider range of disadvantaged contexts, and (2) this explanation also applies to those who are strongly invested in their subgroup (e.g., feminists). In two waves of a large nationally representative survey from 21 to 23 European states (Ntotal = 84,572) and two controlled experiments (Ntotal = 290 women), we found that: (a) system justification was positively associated with superordinate ingroup identification across multiple cases of disadvantage (Studies 1–3), (b) system justification increased when this inclusive identity was made more salient (Studies 2 & 3), and (c) system justification was visible even amongst feminists when they activated their superordinate (Italian) identity (Study 3).

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article under the CC BY license
Date accepted:14 December 2022
Date deposited:23 January 2023
Date of first online publication:27 December 2022
Date first made open access:23 January 2023

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