On the Relation Between Social Dominance Orientation and Environmentalism: A 25-Nation Study

On the Relation Between Social Dominance Orientation and Environmentalism: A 25-Nation Study

2017
Journal  - Social Psychological and Personality Science

Approval of hierarchy and inequality in society indexed by social dominance orientation (SDO) extends to support for human dominance over the natural world. We tested this negative association between SDO and environmentalism and the validity of the new Short Social Dominance Orientation scale in two cross-cultural samples of students (N = 4,163, k = 25) and the general population (N = 1,237, k = 10). As expected, the higher people were on SDO, the less likely they were to engage in environmental citizenship actions, proenvironmental behaviors and to donate to an environmental organization. Multilevel moderation results showed that the SDO–environmentalism relation was stronger in societies with marked societal inequality, lack of societal development and environmental standards. The interplay between individual psychological orientations and social context and the view of nature subscribed to by those high in SDO are discussed.

Psychological science has been contributing to the quest of solving environmental problems by identifying key contextual and individual factors that promote pro-environmental actions (for reviews, see Clayton, 2012; Gifford, 2014). These have included normative aspects of the local and the societal context (e.g., Milfont & Markowitz, 2016; Schultz, Bator, Tabanico, Bruni, & Large, 2013) as well as individual differences in personality and values (e.g., Evans et al., 2013; Milfont & Sibley, 2012). One barrier in attempts to promote pro-environmental actions is the pervading belief in human dominance over nature (Pirages & Ehrlich, 1974; White, 1967). The present article investigates this issue and contributes to an emerging line of research examining whether our acceptance of hierarchy and inequality in the social world extends to acceptance of hierarchy in the natural world, with humans placed above nonhumans (e.g., Milfont, Richter, Sibley, Wilson, & Fischer, 2013).
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Milfont, T.L., Bain, P.G., Kashima, Y., Corral-Verdugo, V., Pasquali, C., Johansson, LO., Guan, Y., Gouveia, V.V., Garðarsdóttir, R.B., Doron, G., Bilewicz, M., Utsugi, A., Aragones, J.I., Steg, L., Soland, M., Park, J., Otto, S., Demarque, C., Wagner, C., Madsen, O.J., Lebedeva, N., González, R., Shultz, P.W., Saiz, J.L. Kurtz, T., Gifford, R., Akotia, C.S., Saviolidis, N.M. & Einarsdóttir, G. (2017). The influence of social dominance orientation on environmentalism: a 25-nation study. En: Social Psychological and Personality Science (2017) p. 1-13; DOI: 10.1177/1948550617722832