Psychology Night Research Posters and Presentations

Faculty Sponsor, if applicable

Dr. Jennifer Zimmerman

Project Abstract

System justification theory predicts that all individuals, regardless of their status, will perceive that the American system is fair and just. However, we expected individuals to perceive that the system functions better for some groups over others—a concept we are calling system qualification. We examined these perceptions between multi-status (i.e., working class Whites) and high-status individuals (i.e., middle class Whites). Participants indicated how likely it is for them, their ingroup, and their outgroup to advance in the American system, how easy it is to achieve higher status, and who the American system currently benefits. We found that multi-status individuals perceived that the system functions better for them and their outgroup than it does for their ingroup; however, high-status individuals believed that the system works better for them than it does for their ingroup which is perceived to function better than it does for their outgroup. Our results reflect system qualification rather than system justification because people recognized that the system doesn’t work well for everyone. Multi-status individuals perceived themselves as similar to their outgroup (high-status people) and believed that the American system is more permeable perhaps so that they can continue to believe that they can advance in society.

Type of Research

Independent Study


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