consistency, dissonance, political socialization and mass media influences. Many of these factors have in common that they make people feel better about the status quo in the face of external threats and internal inconsistencies. Similarly, Jost & Hunyady (2002) point out the palliative (pain reducing) functions of system justification as a coping strategy. But why exactly is it that justifying existing arrangements has so many psychological benefits, and why exactly are these benefits able to outweigh the many negative opposing effects that system justification has for members of low status groups (e.g., dissonance, low self-esteem, depression, neuroticism, etc.)? A five-foundations perspective suggests that the benefits of justifying the system are not just palliative, they are meaning-providing and can often be important for human flourishing. Happiness, health, and longevity are all correlated with income in Western nations, but this first- order correlation cannot be taken as evidence for the harmful effects of system justification. It is possible that the correlation would be even steeper for those who do not believe they are part of a stable and legitimate moral order. Modernization involves a decline in the importance of community, authority, and sacredness, and a corresponding rise in individualism and contractualism. This pattern of changes brings many benefits, but it has also been linked to an increase in depression and suicide. Eckersley and Dear (2002, p. 1892), in analyzing these increases, suggest that “modern Western culture may be failing to do well what cultures do: provide a web or matrix of stories, beliefs, and values that holds a society together, allows individuals to make sense of their lives and sustains them through the trouble and strife of mortal existence.” On this Durkheimian view, the motive to justify socially shared systems begins to seem as fundamental as the motive to tell and retell culturally shared stories or to search collectively for meaning in misfortune. People often want to understand their lives in a social context, and that context is normatively saturated – it has clear dimensions of good and bad, right and wrong. A reflexive or unconscious tendency to find virtue in one’s nation or group may indeed make individuals feel better, but it misses the collective aspects of morality to say that people seek out such virtue in order to reduce their own discomforts.
Haidt & Graham -- 18 Benefit 2: The Origins of the System-Justifying Motive Jost & Hunyady (2002) suggest that “there is a socially acquired motive to justify and rationalize the existing social system” (p. 148, emphasis added). This claim is echoed by Jost, Banaji & Nosek (2004), who oppose the idea that “hierarchy and inequality are genetically mandated at the individual or species level” (p. 912) but do allow for the speculative “possibility that human beings have developed generally adaptive capacities to accommodate, internalize, and even rationalize key features of their socially constructed environments” (p. 912). In our analysis, however, a five foundation morality should be seen as the human default (Rozin, in press). Community, authority, and sacredness are key ideas in sociology because they are so
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- Fall '13