Non-conscious forms of system justification: Implicit and behavioral preferences for higher status groups

John T. Jost, Brett W. Pelham, Mauricio R. Carvallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to system justification theory, people internalize and perpetuate systemic forms of inequality, even though it sometimes means harboring preferences for members of higher status outgroups. In Study 1, students from a high status (but not a low status) university exhibited significant ingroup favoritism on the IAT, an automatic evaluative measure. Furthermore, for students at the high status university, implicit ingroup bias was positively correlated with implicit self-esteem. For students at the low status university, implicit acceptance of consensual stereotypes concerning academic and extracurricular characteristics was associated with implicit outgroup favoritism. In Study 2, Latinos and Asian Americans exhibited significant outgroup favoritism on an unobtrusive behavioral measure by choosing White interaction partners over members of their own groups. In Study 3, parents named newborn children disproportionately after their fathers (compared with their mothers) and published birth announcements for boys slightly more often than for girls. Thus, we observed evidence of system justification on implicit or unobtrusive measures in three different socially disadvantaged groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-602
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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