Chapter 7: To be fair or to be dominant: The effect of inequality frames on dominant group members' responses to inequity

Rosalind M. Chow, Brian S. Lowery, Eric D. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose - All modern societies are marked by unequal relationships between dominant and subordinate groups. Given that dominant group members often have the resources to determine if and how inequities might be dealt with, it is important to know when and how dominant group members will respond to inequity. Approach - In this chapter, we present a new framework for how individuals experience inequality: the inequality-framing model. According to the model, individuals distinguish between inequities of advantage and inequities of disadvantage, which is predicted to lead to different experiences of inequity. We then review prior literature that indicates that perceptions of ingroup advantage and outgroup disadvantage can influence when and how dominant group members will respond to inequity. We specifically investigate hierarchy-attenuating responses to inequity, such as support for affirmative action policies, and hierarchy-enhancing responses, such as denial of inequity, disidentification from the group, the motivated construal of inequity, and the motivated use of colorblind ideology. Research and practical implications - The model suggests that researchers and practitioners alike would do well to pay attention not only to the magnitude of inequity, but also to the way in which it is described. Importantly, dominant group members are more likely to have the power over how inequalities are discussed, which has ramifications for their experience of and willingness to remedy inequity. Originality - This chapter provides an overview of research indicating that how inequity is described - advantage or disadvantage - can have implications for how dominant group members experience and respond to inequity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-204
Number of pages22
JournalResearch on Managing Groups and Teams
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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