Placating the powerless: Effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanation on affect, memory, and stereotyping

Elizabeth L. Haines, John Jost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In an experimental study involving power differences between groups, the effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanations for power were investigated on measures of affect, stereotyping, and memory. We found that powerless groups reported more positive affect (relative to negative affect) when explanations were provided for their powerlessness, whether these explanations were classified a priori as either legitimate or illegitimate. Members of powerless groups also attributed greater intelligence and responsibility to the outgroup when it was in a position of high power rather than equal power, and these effects on stereotyping were enhanced when explanations for the power differences were provided. Finally, research participants tended to misremember the reasons given for the power differences as more legitimate than they actually were. These results support a system justification theory of intergroup behavior (Jost and Banaji [1994] Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 33:1-27) in that people seem to imbue placebic explanations with legitimacy, use stereotypes to rationalize power differences, and exhibit biases in memory such that the status quo is increasingly legitimized over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-236
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Justice Research
Volume13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

Fingerprint

Group
outgroup
system theory
stereotype
intelligence
legitimacy
responsibility
trend
time

Keywords

  • Explanation
  • Intergroup relations
  • Legitimacy
  • Power
  • System justification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Placating the powerless : Effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanation on affect, memory, and stereotyping. / Haines, Elizabeth L.; Jost, John.

In: Social Justice Research, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2000, p. 219-236.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{577af527b3f1492c8f66c210f873c22f,
title = "Placating the powerless: Effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanation on affect, memory, and stereotyping",
abstract = "In an experimental study involving power differences between groups, the effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanations for power were investigated on measures of affect, stereotyping, and memory. We found that powerless groups reported more positive affect (relative to negative affect) when explanations were provided for their powerlessness, whether these explanations were classified a priori as either legitimate or illegitimate. Members of powerless groups also attributed greater intelligence and responsibility to the outgroup when it was in a position of high power rather than equal power, and these effects on stereotyping were enhanced when explanations for the power differences were provided. Finally, research participants tended to misremember the reasons given for the power differences as more legitimate than they actually were. These results support a system justification theory of intergroup behavior (Jost and Banaji [1994] Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 33:1-27) in that people seem to imbue placebic explanations with legitimacy, use stereotypes to rationalize power differences, and exhibit biases in memory such that the status quo is increasingly legitimized over time.",
keywords = "Explanation, Intergroup relations, Legitimacy, Power, System justification",
author = "Haines, {Elizabeth L.} and John Jost",
year = "2000",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "13",
pages = "219--236",
journal = "Social Justice Research",
issn = "0885-7466",
publisher = "Springer New York",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Placating the powerless

T2 - Effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanation on affect, memory, and stereotyping

AU - Haines, Elizabeth L.

AU - Jost, John

PY - 2000

Y1 - 2000

N2 - In an experimental study involving power differences between groups, the effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanations for power were investigated on measures of affect, stereotyping, and memory. We found that powerless groups reported more positive affect (relative to negative affect) when explanations were provided for their powerlessness, whether these explanations were classified a priori as either legitimate or illegitimate. Members of powerless groups also attributed greater intelligence and responsibility to the outgroup when it was in a position of high power rather than equal power, and these effects on stereotyping were enhanced when explanations for the power differences were provided. Finally, research participants tended to misremember the reasons given for the power differences as more legitimate than they actually were. These results support a system justification theory of intergroup behavior (Jost and Banaji [1994] Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 33:1-27) in that people seem to imbue placebic explanations with legitimacy, use stereotypes to rationalize power differences, and exhibit biases in memory such that the status quo is increasingly legitimized over time.

AB - In an experimental study involving power differences between groups, the effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanations for power were investigated on measures of affect, stereotyping, and memory. We found that powerless groups reported more positive affect (relative to negative affect) when explanations were provided for their powerlessness, whether these explanations were classified a priori as either legitimate or illegitimate. Members of powerless groups also attributed greater intelligence and responsibility to the outgroup when it was in a position of high power rather than equal power, and these effects on stereotyping were enhanced when explanations for the power differences were provided. Finally, research participants tended to misremember the reasons given for the power differences as more legitimate than they actually were. These results support a system justification theory of intergroup behavior (Jost and Banaji [1994] Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 33:1-27) in that people seem to imbue placebic explanations with legitimacy, use stereotypes to rationalize power differences, and exhibit biases in memory such that the status quo is increasingly legitimized over time.

KW - Explanation

KW - Intergroup relations

KW - Legitimacy

KW - Power

KW - System justification

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0012571414&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0012571414&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0012571414

VL - 13

SP - 219

EP - 236

JO - Social Justice Research

JF - Social Justice Research

SN - 0885-7466

IS - 3

ER -