Moral outrage mediates the dampening effect of system justification on support for redistributive social policies

Cheryl J. Wakslak, John T. Jost, Tom R. Tyler, Emmeline S. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To understand how and why people tolerate ongoing social and economic inequality, we conducted two studies investigating the hypothesis that system justification is associated with reduced emotional distress and a lack of support for helping the disadvantaged. In Study 1, we found that the endorsement of a system-justifying ideology was negatively associated with moral outrage, existential guilt, and support for helping the disadvantaged. In Study 2, the induction of a system-justification mind-set through exposure to "rags-to-riches" narratives decreased moral outrage, negative affect, and therefore intentions to help the disadvantaged. In both studies, moral outrage (outward-focused distress) was found to mediate the dampening effect of system justification on support for redistribution, whereas existential guilt (Study 1) or negative affect in general (Study 2; inward-focused distress) did not. Thus, system-justifying ideology appears to undercut the redistribution of social and economic resources by alleviating moral outrage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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