Social dominance orientation, authoritarianism, and support for intergroup violence between the middle east and America

P. J. Henry, Jim Sidanius, Shana Levin, Felicia Pratto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Social dominance theory has generally posited that terror and intergroup violence can be explained in terms of social dominance struggles. Social dominance theorists have described terror mostly as a tool for maintaining intergroup hierarchies in society (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Although implications of the theory suggest that terror may also be used by lower status groups as a tool for the resistance of domination by higher status groups, this prediction heretofore has not been empirically demonstrated. Data from two samples, one in the United States and one in Lebanon, were collected regarding attitudes toward terrorism and intergroup violence. The results show that the American sample demonstrates the typical patterns of social dominance such that those who are higher in social dominance orientation tend to support greater violence toward the Middle East. However, the Lebanese sample shows the opposite pattern, such that those who are lower in social dominance orientation tend to support violence toward the West. These results suggest that (1) support for terrorism among Middle East citizens is a project of counter-dominance, and, more broadly, that (2) the relationship between social dominance orientation and support for violence depends on the dynamics of the conflict and the status of the perpetrators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-584
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005



  • Aggression
  • Authoritarianism
  • Middle East
  • Power and status differences
  • Social dominance
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this