Personality and system justification

In terms of differences among people, psychological research reveals that people who exhibit lower levels of complex thinking or higher levels of death anxiety or stronger desires to share reality with like-minded others tend to justify existing institutions and arrangements more than others. In other words, people who—for either chronic or temporary reasons—are especially eager to attain subjective states of certainty, closure, safety, security, conformity, and affiliation are especially likely to accept and rationalize the way things are and to embrace what contemporary scholars would recognize as politically conservative ways of thinking. In contrast, individuals who enjoy thinking in complex terms, or who are less sensitive to external threats than others, or who value uniqueness over conformity, are more likely to criticize the social system and to approve of insurgent movements aimed at changing the status quo. Thus, in addition to a general tendency for people to adapt to unwelcome realities, there are individual differences in personality as well as situational triggers pertaining to epistemic, existential, and relational motives that increase or decrease the likelihood of participating in system-challenging collective action.

Jost, John T. A Theory of System Justification. Harvard University Press, 2020. p. 7-8


Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

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