A theory of system justification was proposed 25 years ago by Jost and Banaji (1994) to explain “the participation by disadvantaged individuals and groups in negative stereotypes of themselves” and the phenomenon of outgroup favoritism. The scope of the theory was subsequently expanded to account for a much wider range of outcomes, including appraisals of fairness, justice, legitimacy, deservingness, and entitlement; spontaneous and deliberate social judgments about individuals, groups, and events; and full-fledged political and religious ideologies. According to system justification theory, people are motivated (to varying degrees, depending upon situational and dispositional factors) to defend, bolster, and justify aspects of existing social, economic, and political systems. Engaging in system justification serves the palliative function of increasing satisfaction with the status quo and addresses underlying epistemic, existential, and relational needs to reduce uncertainty, threat, and social discord. In this talk, Dr. Jost will summarize major tenets of system justification theory, review some of the empirical evidence supporting it, answer several questions and criticisms, and highlight areas of societal relevance and directions for future research.
John T. Jost is Professor of Psychology and Politics and Co-Director of the Center for Social and Political Behavior at New York University. His research, which addresses stereotyping, prejudice, political ideology, and system justification theory, has been funded by the National Science Foundation and has appeared in top scientific journals and received national and international media attention. He has published over 200 journal articles and book chapters and four co-edited book volumes, including Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification (Oxford, 2009). He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, Erik Erikson Award for Early Career in Political Psychology, International Society for Self and Identity Early Career Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology Theoretical Innovation Prize, Society of Experimental Social Psychology Career Trajectory Award, and the Morton Deutsch Award for Distinguished Scholarly and Practical Contributions to Social Justice. He has served on several editorial boards and executive committees of professional societies and is currently editor of the Oxford University Press book series on Political Psychology. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Association of Psychological Science, and is past President of the International Society of Political Psychology. In 2018, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
This event is sponsored by the ISSR Scholars Program, promoting successful research and grants development for social science faculty across the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Jost visits UMass to collaborate with ISSR Scholar Justin Gross. This public talk is co-sponsored with the Institute of Diversity Sciences, Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, and Department of Political Science at UMass Amherst.