August 1st, 2010
US-them thinking is a major source of conflict in the world. The Boston Globe Ideas section brings news of a new study presenting a new wrinkle on the phenomenon:
Most of us probably assume that people who are trapped in repressive regimes like Cuba or North Korea really want to get out. A new study suggests instead that it’s the very fact of being trapped that helps people defend the system. When Canadians were led to believe that it would be harder to emigrate in the future, they became more willing to attribute social inequality to innate differences rather than systemic discrimination. Likewise, when university students were led to believe that it would be harder to transfer, they were less willing to support criticism of the university. So, just as people can go to great lengths to rationalize bad decisions and personal defects, they’ll stick up for the group they’re stuck with.
Laurin, K. et al., “Restricted Emigration, System Inescapability, and Defense of the Status Quo: System-Justifying Consequences of Restricted Exit Opportunities,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).