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Victim Derogation and Victim Enhancement as Alternate Routes to System Justification

Aaron C. Kay, John T. Jost and Sean Young
Psychological Science
Vol. 16, No. 3 (Mar., 2005), pp. 240-246
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40064208
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Victim Derogation and Victim Enhancement as Alternate Routes to System Justification
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Abstract

Numerous studies have documented the potential for victim-blaming attributions to justify the status quo. Recent work suggests that complementary, victim-enhancing stereotypes may also increase support for existing social arrangements. We seek to reconcile these seemingly contradictory findings by proposing that victim derogation and victim enhancement are alternate routes to system justification , with the preferred route depending on the perception of a causal link between trait and outcome. Derogating "losers" (and lionizing "winners") on traits (e.g., intelligence) that are causally related to outcomes (e.g., wealth vs. poverty) serves to increase system justification, as does compensating "losers" (and downgrading "winners") on traits (e.g., physical attractiveness) that are causally unrelated to those outcomes. We provide converging evidence using system-threat and stereotype-activation paradigms.

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