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University of Connecticut Social Psychology Intergroup Relations

Social Dominance Theory

Social dominance theory (SDT; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) is a multi-level, integrative theory of intergroup relations. Its central aim has been to understand the ubiquity and stubborn stability of group-based inequalities, though our research program has begun to explore how to introduce instability in group-based social hierarchies. In particular, recent research in our lab has explored the psychology of people who are low on social dominance orientation (e.g., socially inclusive).

The Socially Inclusive Psychology of People Low on Social Dominance Orientation

Because of the traditional focus on dominance and oppression, very little research has explored the psychology of people who do not exhibit prejudice or who desire group-based equality. In a series of studies, we argue that social inclusion is a defining feature of people low on social dominance orientation. To test this prediction, we developed a short social dominance orientation scale that includes a socially inclusive item and have found extensive support for its construct and criterion-related validity. Multiple indicators of social inclusion (e.g., empathy, hierarchy-attenuating policy support, inclusive meanings ascribed to religious practices, and pictorial diagrams of socially inclusive group structure) are endemic to people low on social dominance orientation.

Pratto, F., Stewart, A. L., Foels, R., Henkel-Cistulli, K. E., Bou Zeineddine, F., Laham, S., & Morselli, D. (2012). Beyond me and mine: The socially-inclusive psychology of low social dominance orientation. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Recent Papers

Aiello, A., Pratto, F., & Pierro, A. (2013). Framing social dominance orientation and power in organizational context. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 35, 487-495. doi: 10.1080/01973533.2013.823614

Pratto, F., Stewart, A. L., & Bou Zeineddine, F. (in press). When inequality fails: Power, group dominance, and societal change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology.