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University of Connecticut Intergroup Relations Rob Foels, Ph.D.




Research Programs


Editor, Teaching Section, Psychology of Women Quarterly

Ideology and Social Dominance Research

Social dominance theory is one of two important theories put forth by Dr. Felicia Pratto of the UConn Intergroup Relations Lab.
Since first learning about social dominance theory, I have been interested in the invariance hypothesis stated in that theory.
Increasingly I have become interested in a broader issue raised by the theory, the role of ideologies in intergroup relations.
Ideologies and social dominance have important implications for social justice.

Ideologies organize intergroup relations

Ideologies such as meritocracy and political ideology are not about groups or intergroup relations. However, we argue that these ideologies, which we call group implicating ideologies, do help to organize the power relations between groups. These ideologies are instituionalized in our legal system, making their effects pernicious.

  • Foels, R., & Pratto, F. (forthcoming). Social ideologies organize power dynamics between groups. In J. Simpson & J. F. Dovidio (Eds.),<> APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology: Volume 2. Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes.

Social dominance theory's invariance hypothesis 

The invariance hypothesis states that, all else being equal, women will be lower in social dominance than men. I am interested in knowing the limits to this prediction.

  • Foels, R., & Reid, L. D. (2010). Gender differences in social dominance orientation: The role of cognitive complexity. Sex Roles, 62, 684-692.
  • Foels, R., & Pappas, C. J. (2004). Learning and unlearning the myths we are taught: Gender and social dominance orientation. Sex Roles, 50, 743-757.