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

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
What's Next
Trending Today
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 8,869 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
11 Traits of People With High Emotional Intelligence
Raven Fon · 8,052 views today · Lately, new ways to describe human interactions, social behaviours, and many facets of psychology have emerged on the social network scene. One of those descriptions is “high...
10 Provocative Quotes from Ivan Illich's "Deschooling Society"
Daniel Lattier · 7,542 views today · Ivan Illich’s groundbreaking book Deschooling Society (1971) offers a radical critique of the institutionalization of education within modern societies. Illich believed that we...
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 7,359 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 7,169 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence-And Devastate the Left
Arun Gupta · 5,837 views today · The Left should take the Trump threat very seriously.
Maya Angelou's 3-Word Secret to Living Your Best Life
3 min · 4,375 views today · Dr. Maya Angelou says that in order to be the best human being you can be, you must follow one simple directive: "Just do right." Watch as Dr. Angelou reveals how you can never...
Doctors Response to Daily Mail Bigotry is Beautiful
Neil Tiwari · 4,350 views today · A poetic open letter to the Daily Mail newspaper from Dr. Neil Tiwari, in response to a bigoted attack on his colleagues, is going viral and it's beautiful.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 4,329 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Superblocks: How Barcelona Is Taking City Streets Back From Cars
5 min · 4,289 views today · Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians.
Forest Man
16 min · 3,986 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
Real Change in Democracy Comes Not in the Voting Booth but Activism at the Grass-Roots
Ilze Peterson · 3,950 views today · Many years ago, the late Judy Guay, a low-income woman from Bangor, founded the Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods in order to advocate for the neediest in our...
Fighting Trump - Residents Opposing Donald Trump's Scottish Golf Resort
14 min · 3,859 views today · Documentary on the residents protesting against Donald Trump's golf development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Directed and Presented by James Trosh.
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,806 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 2,517 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
Alan Watts: What If Money Was No Object?
3 min · 2,308 views today · How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? What if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object? Spoken...
Throw (2016)
10 min · 1,986 views today · The first installment of Invisible Thread, an ongoing ELM passion project series, Throw tells the story of an outsider from East Baltimore, an area challenged by gang violence...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 1,890 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
A City Open to Migration and Diversity?
2 min · 1,648 views today · We speak to Thomas Jézéquel of Eurocities about what the city of Gdańsk can teach us.
10 Shocking Facts About Society That We Absurdly Accept As Normal
Joe Martino · 1,626 views today · When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up. Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Why Society Doesn't Change: the System Justification Bias