The System Justification Conundrum: Re-Examining the Cognitive Dissonance Basis for System Justification

  title={The System Justification Conundrum: Re-Examining the Cognitive Dissonance Basis for System Justification},
  author={Chuma Kevin Owuamalam and Mark Rubin and Russell Spears},
  journal={Frontiers in Psychology},
In a landmark 1994 publication in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Jost and Banaji proposed the existence of a novel, fundamental system justification motive that drives social behaviors. More specifically, they proposed (a) that people have an epistemic need to support social hierarchies and societal systems, (b) that this system justification motive is inversely related to personal and group interests among members of low status groups, and (c) that it is stronger and more effective… Expand
Revisiting 25 years of system motivation explanation for system justification from the perspective of social identity model of system attitudes.
The present article argues that SIMSA offers a more coherent and parsimonious explanation for system justification than does SJT and argues that these inconsistencies can be resolved by a social identity model of system attitudes. Expand
Addressing Evidential and Theoretical Inconsistencies in System-Justification Theory with a Social Identity Model of System Attitudes
System-justification theory (SJT) proposes that people have an inherent motive to support societal systems, even at the expense of their personal and group interests. However, the evidence for thisExpand
A quarter century of system justification theory: Questions, answers, criticisms, and societal applications
A theory of system justification was proposed 25 years ago by Jost and Banaji (1994, Br. J. Soc. Psychol., 33, 1) in the British Journal of Social Psychology to explain ‘the participation byExpand
A critical review of the (un)conscious basis for system‐supporting attitudes of the disadvantaged
Is support for societal systems amongst the disadvantaged driven by an (un)conscious system justification motive that is independent from self-interests? System justification theory (SJT) is uniqueExpand
Is a system motive really necessary to explain the system justification effect? A response to Jost (2019) and Jost, Badaan, Goudarzi, Hoffarth, and Mogami (2019).
It is concluded that SJT theorists should decide whether system justification is oppositional to, or compatible with social identity motives, and that this dilemma could be resolved by relinquishing the theoretically problematic notion of a system justification motivation. Expand
Ideology and the limits of self-interest: System justification motivation and conservative advantages in mass politics.
It is commonly assumed that political attitudes are driven by self-interest and that poor people heavily favor policies aimed at redistributing wealth. This assumption fails to explain the popularityExpand
Advancing a Social Identity Model of System Attitudes
Abstract The connection between social identity and attitudes toward the criminal justice system (CJS) is an area of interest among criminologists and legitimacy scholars. Previous work has proposedExpand
Do humans possess an autonomous system justification motivation? A Pupillometric test of the strong system justification thesis
Abstract To investigate the existence of an autonomous system justification motive that guides human behavior, we tested the dissonance-inspired strong system-justification thesis: that the cognitiveExpand
Working class conservatism: a system justification perspective.
  • J. Jost
  • Sociology, Medicine
  • Current opinion in psychology
  • 2017
Qualitative and quantitative evidence of system justification among the disadvantaged is summarized and prospects for more constructive political activity are considered. Expand
Contrasting explanations for status‐legitimacy effects based on system justification theory and social identity theory
Three experiments tested two competing hypotheses about the legitimacy of social systems among disadvantaged groups. The first hypothesis was derived from social identity theory, and assumes thatExpand


A Decade of System Justification Theory: Accumulated Evidence of Conscious and Unconscious Bolstering of the Status Quo
Most theories in social and political psychology stress self-interest, intergroup conflict, ethnocentrism, homophily, ingroup bias, outgroup antipathy, dominance, and resistance. System justificationExpand
Social Cognition and Democracy: The Relationship Between System Justification, Just World Beliefs, Authoritarianism, Need for Closure, and Need for Cognition in Hungary
This research was aimed at examining just-world beliefs, system justification, authoritarianism, and cognitive style in a nationally representative sample (N = 1000) in Hungary, and at relating theseExpand
The role of stereotyping in system‐justification and the production of false consciousness
Although the concept of justification has played a significant role in many social psychological theories, its presence in recent examinations of stereotyping has been minimal. We describe andExpand
Social Inequality and the Reduction of Ideological Dissonance on Behalf of the System: Evidence of Enhanced System Justification among the Disadvantaged
According to system justification theory, people are motivated to preserve the belief that existing social arrangements are fair, legitimate, and justifiable (Jost & Banaji, 1994). The strongest formExpand
Reactions to group devaluation and social inequality: A comparison of social identity and system justification predictions
Abstract System justification theory (SJT) proposes that support for social inequality should be stronger among members of devalued groups than among members of higher status groups; that embracingExpand
Social Identity, System Justification, and Social Dominance: Commentary on Reicher, Jost et al., and Sidanius et al.
The articles by Reicher (2004), Jost, Banaji, and Nosek (2004), and Sidanius, Pratto, van Laar, and Levin (2004) discuss the strengths and weaknesses of social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner,Expand
Why Men (and Women) Do and Don’t Rebel
Across very different contexts, measures, and methods, the results reveal that, even among political activists, system justification plays a significant role in undermining willingness to protest. Expand
Do the disadvantaged legitimize the social system? A large-scale test of the status-legitimacy hypothesis.
  • M. Brandt
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Journal of personality and social psychology
  • 2013
The author examined the status-legitimacy hypothesis using data from 3 representative sets of data from the United States and throughout the world to reveal weak evidence, null evidence, or contrary evidence to the dissonance-inspired status- Legitimacies hypothesis. Expand
A sense of powerlessness fosters system justification: Implications for the legitimation of authority, hierarchy, and government
In an attempt to explain the stability of hierarchy, we focus on the perspective of the powerless and how a subjective sense of dependence leads them to imbue the system and its authorities withExpand
The Context of Social Identity: Domination, Resistance, and Change
The task of social psychology is to explain the flexibility of human beings in creating and relating to their social worlds. Social identity and self-categorization theories provide a thoroughgoingExpand