ABSTRACT—According to system justification theory, there is a psychological motive to defend and justify the status quo. There are both dispositional antecedents (e.g., need for closure, openness to experience) and situational antecedents (e.g., system threat, mortality salience) of the tendency to embrace system-justifying ideologies. Consequences of system justification sometimes differ for members of advantaged versus disadvantaged groups, with the former experiencing increased and the latter decreased self-esteem, well-being, and in-group favoritism. In accordance with the palliative function of system justification, endorsement of such ideologies is associated with reduced negative affect for everyone, as well as weakened support for social change and redistribution of resources. KEYWORDS—system justification; ideology; conservatism; status quo In the wake of the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran the following headline: ‘‘Nation’s Poor Win Election for Nation’s Rich’ ’ (November 11–17, 2004). The accompanying article contained a fictitious quote from the incredulous winner, President Bush, who observed that ‘‘The alliance between the tiny fraction at the top of the pyramid and the teeming masses of mouth-breathers at its enormous base has never been stronger. We have an understanding, them and us. They help us stay rich, and in return, we help them stay poor. No matter what naysayers may think, the system works’ ’ (p. 10). For many readers, this parody summarized well the apparent irrationality involved in members of disadvantaged groups ’ support for conservative ideology and the societal status quo. The failure of self-interest models to explain ideology and public opinion has led political observers and analysts to search for better explanations. To investigate how and why people accept and maintain the social systems that affect them, we hav
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