According to system justification theory, stereotyping is an ideological process that serves to justify the status quo and bolster the legitimacy of the existing social order. The present research investigates the system-justifying role of complementary stereotypes in which high-status groups are represented as agentic and achievement-oriented and low-status groups as communal and interpersonally oriented. We demonstrate that such complementary stereotypes: (a) reflect a high degree of consensus across high- and low-status perceiver groups; (b) are endorsed more strongly to the extent that system justification motives are chronically or temporarily activated; and (c) serve an ideological function by enhancing the perceived legitimacy of the existing social system. Evidence concerning regional and ethnic stereotypes in Italy, England, and Israel provides converging evidence for the system-justifying function of complementary stereotypes and reveals remarkable similarity in the contents of stereotypes of different groups that happen to occupy similar status positions in their respective societies.
- Intergroup relations
- Regional, Ethnic and social status
- System justification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science