Every day we wake up and start making judgments. How does your preference for hierarchy impact those judgments? For example, public opinion polls find most people support equality but see income distribution as being unfair in society. At the same time they see our economic system to be highly fair and legitimate. Stereotypes seem to help justify inequality in social systems by providing the reasons why some are at the top (intelligent, hardworking) and others aren’t (lazy, irresponsible). Ironically, dominant groups and the dominated seem to share the beliefs that justify the status differences (caste, socioeconomic status, or class hegemony) we see around us. As a small thought experiment – what comes to mind when you pass by that homeless encampment at the SF Civic Center?
The interaction between preference and perception seem to have consequences for policy and organizations. For example, the Citizens United and SpeechNow Supreme Court rulings allow corporations to use First Amendment rights to advertise for their political candidates with little transparency as long as they are not linked formally. The ethical dimensions of corporations become of paramount importance now that they have the ability to impact campaign spending and the finding that groups are often perceived as having individual agency. From a social psychological perspective this becomes intriguing as there is more diversity within groups than between groups. This might be heartening if organizations had democratic, vote based norms in decision making, but given corporations are highly hierarchical organizations of people, understanding their contributions to political and social causes become important.
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