Why Society Doesn't Change: the System Justification Bias
Why Society Doesn't Change: the System Justification Bias
By PsyBlog / spring.org.uk
Sep 17, 2016

Society’s tendency is to maintain what has been. Rebellion is only an occasional reaction to suffering in human history: we have infinitely more instances of forbearance to exploitation, and submission to authority, than we have examples of revolt. (Zinn, 1968)

Have you ever wondered why society hardly ever changes? I think most of us have.

One answer is that humans have a mental bias towards maintaining the status quo. People think like this all the time. They tend to go with what they know rather than a new, unknown option.

People feel safer with the established order in the face of potential change. That’s partly why people buy the same things they bought before, return to the same restaurants and keep espousing the same opinions.

This has been called the ‘system justification bias’ and it has some paradoxical effects (research is described in Jost et al., 2004):

  • Poor people don’t strongly support the sorts of political policies that would make them better off. Surveys find that low-income groups are hardly more likely than high-income groups to want tax changes that mean they will get more money. Generally people’s politics doesn’t line up with their position in society.
  • Oddly, the more disadvantaged people are, the more they are likely to support a system that is doing them no favours. This is because of cognitive dissonance. In one US example of this low-income Latinos are more likely to trust government officials than high-income Latinos.
  • Most disturbing of all: the more unequal the society, the more people try to rationalise the system. For example in countries in which men hold more sexist values, women are more likely to support the system.

 

People seem to rationalise the inequality in society, e.g. poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough and rich people are rich because they deserve it.

Incredibly, this means that some (but not all) turkeys will keep on voting for Christmas.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
Russell Means219,347 views today ·
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min26,921 views today ·
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small23,334 views today ·
MP Says Government is Intentionally Making People Destitute to Prevent Organised Opposition
2 min20,220 views today ·
Every Town Needs a Remakery
Jeremy Williams13,122 views today ·
Five Maps That Will Change How You See the World
Donald Houston, University of Portsmouth9,698 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min7,130 views today ·
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh4,616 views today ·
Musician Macka B. Schools Us on Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
4 min4,612 views today ·
Load More
New
Republican Fight to Criminalize Protest Tactics
5 min
Trouble, Ep. 1 - Killing the Black Snake
30 min
Five Maps That Will Change How You See the World
Donald Houston, University of Portsmouth
Hooded: A Multimedia Project to Challenge and Change How Young Black Men Are Portrayed
3 min
The Edible Bus Stop: Community Gardens From Neglected Sites
2 min
'Disaster': Trump Administration Signs off on Keystone XL Pipeline
Nika Knight
Escape From Syria - Faiza's Story
5 min
A Letter to Extremists
Nafeez Ahmed
Muslims This, ISIS That
3 min
Load More
What's Next
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
Derrick Jensen
How The Tremendous Changes In Our Society Mirrors The Evolution of the Butterfly
4 min
Like us on Facebook?
Why Society Doesn't Change: the System Justification Bias