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.
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