Preference for Hierarchy Is Associated With Apathetic and Antipathic Emotions and Policies
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CitationHudson, Sa-kiera. 2020. Preference for Hierarchy Is Associated With Apathetic and Antipathic Emotions and Policies. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractSocial dominance orientation (SDO) measures the extent to which people desire and promote group-based inequality. SDO is positively related to prejudicial attitudes like racism, sexism, and xenophobia, as well as positively related to endorsing policies and behaviors that support inequality, such as torture, anti-affirmative action, and unequal resource distribution. Despite the wealth of research on the attitudinal and behavioral implications of having higher levels of SDO, there is relatively little work concerning the relationship between SDO and emotions. This dissertation adds to a small but growing body of work on the role that ideology plays in experiencing emotions, especially empathic emotions.
In Paper 1 (Hudson, Cikara, & Sidanius, 2019), we investigated the basic relationship between SDO, empathy, and counter-empathy – feeling opposite emotions of that of another person – across four studies (N = 808) in both racial and novel groups settings. We found that overall, SDO was negatively associated with feeling empathy for others and is positively associated with feeling counter-empathy. These patterns became exacerbated for out-groups specifically in competitive group settings.
Paper 2 investigated whether the outcomes found in Paper 1 were driven by a strategic motivation to feel emotions that facilitate hierarchy-reinforcing behaviors (and avoid emotions that interfere). Across three pre-registered studies (N = 1724) I found that people with higher (relative to lower) levels of SDO made similar predictions of others’ emotions when asked, showing that SDO did not systematically track the ability to represent others’ emotions, a necessary prerequisite for empathic emotions. However, individuals with higher levels of SDO still desired to feel less empathy and schadenfreude toward low-status targets, and when given a choice, avoided situations that required feeling empathy and approached situations that required feeling schadenfreude.
Paper 3 provided evidence that the link between SDO and (counter-)empathy is relevant for behavior, developing a theoretical model that causally connects SDO, (counter)-empathic emotions, and hierarchy enhancing behaviors and policy support. Previous work has established that SDO is related to both actively dominant and passively anti-egalitarian behaviors and attitudes. Here I argued that these relationships are mediated through counter-empathy and empathy respectively. In three pre-registered studies (N = 2196) I show initial support for this model, as SDO’s positive associations with harmful policy support were more strongly mediated through counter-empathy than empathy, while SDO’s negative associations with helpful policy support were more strongly mediated through empathy than counter-empathy.
As a whole, this dissertation shows the importance of investigating SDO and intergroup emotions simultaneously. SDO reflects a broad worldview that impacts people’s attitudes and behaviors. Here I show SDO also influences emotions like empathy and counter-empathy, which has important consequences on policy support and ultimately intergroup behavior.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365530
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