Meritocracy and socially critical decisions towards low status group members

Meritocracy and socially critical decisions towards low status group members

We face trivial decisions everyday but every once in a while we face decisions with a deep impact on others as they may imply serious harm or unequal distribution of relevant material or symbolic resources. These socially critical decisions (SCD) - i.e. decisions that involve serious consequences for others - constitute the core of this research proposal and its main goal is to study whether and how the contextual salience of a meritocratic norm impacts on SCD towards low status group members.

Research on these SCD within asymmetric social relations has focused on different examples such as “shoot vs. not-shoot” police decisions as a function of different ethnic target groups or medical decisions (different diagnoses for minorities?).

A consistent result across these different decisional contexts indicates that low status group members (e.g. blacks, gipsies, homeless) are targeted with more unfavorable decisions. However, research has been more focused in showing this group-based discrimination in SCD than in explaining it. Importantly, a significant factor that has been consistently shown to impact on group-based distinctions has been neglected by SCD research: that is, the salience of a meritocratic norm.  Although seen as an important social norm that regulates society, descriptive meritocrac, i.e. the belief that people are rewarded based on their efforts) is however associated with intolerance and dislike of members of low status groups and may therefore be logically associated with more unfavorable decisions towards low status groups. The potential reason for that may be that when meritocratic beliefs are salient, low status individuals are not seen as victims of a discriminatory system, but as responsible for their own negative situation. Thus, meritocracy may lead to an enhanced status legitimacy perception regarding the negative situation of low status groups. In turn, this perceived legitimacy may make negative implicit associations about those groups more salient, i.e. this enhanced legitimacy perception may increase levels of implicit prejudice. Finally, that increased implicit prejudice should lead to more unfavorable SCD.

Nonetheless, to our knowledge, the impact of meritocracy has never been studied within the research about SCD. Thus, several issues remain unsolved: Does the salience of a descriptive meritocratic norm have an impact on SCD? If so, how does that impact occur? Finally, do different decisional contexts and different types of decisions (e.g. snapshot vs. deliberate decisions) imply different or the same mechanisms?

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Meritocracy, Decision making, Low status, Legitimation

We face trivial decisions everyday but every once in a while we face decisions with a deep impact on others as they may imply serious harm or unequal distribution of relevant material or symbolic resources. These socially critical decisions (SCD) - i.e. decisions that involve serious consequences for others - constitute the core of this research proposal and its main goal is to study whether and how the contextual salience of a meritocratic norm impacts on SCD towards low status group members.

Research on these SCD within asymmetric social relations has focused on different examples such as “shoot vs. not-shoot” police decisions as a function of different ethnic target groups or medical decisions (different diagnoses for minorities?).

A consistent result across these different decisional contexts indicates that low status group members (e.g. blacks, gipsies, homeless) are targeted with more unfavorable decisions. However, research has been more focused in showing this group-based discrimination in SCD than in explaining it. Importantly, a significant factor that has been consistently shown to impact on group-based distinctions has been neglected by SCD research: that is, the salience of a meritocratic norm.  Although seen as an important social norm that regulates society, descriptive meritocrac, i.e. the belief that people are rewarded based on their efforts) is however associated with intolerance and dislike of members of low status groups and may therefore be logically associated with more unfavorable decisions towards low status groups. The potential reason for that may be that when meritocratic beliefs are salient, low status individuals are not seen as victims of a discriminatory system, but as responsible for their own negative situation. Thus, meritocracy may lead to an enhanced status legitimacy perception regarding the negative situation of low status groups. In turn, this perceived legitimacy may make negative implicit associations about those groups more salient, i.e. this enhanced legitimacy perception may increase levels of implicit prejudice. Finally, that increased implicit prejudice should lead to more unfavorable SCD.

Nonetheless, to our knowledge, the impact of meritocracy has never been studied within the research about SCD. Thus, several issues remain unsolved: Does the salience of a descriptive meritocratic norm have an impact on SCD? If so, how does that impact occur? Finally, do different decisional contexts and different types of decisions (e.g. snapshot vs. deliberate decisions) imply different or the same mechanisms?

 

Objectivos: 
The major scientific question addressed by this project is whether and how meritocracy has an impact on socially critical decisions (SCD) towards low status group members. The main research goals are: <br />a) to test the impact of meritocracy on SCD<br />b) to analyse if the impact of meritocracy on SCD occurs through changes in legitimation perceptions and in levels of implicit prejudice towards low status groups<br />c) to test whether different types of SCD involve different mechanisms
Parceria: 
Unintegrated

Proj Expl Rlopes

Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/02/2015
End Date: 
02/02/2020
Duração: 
60 meses
Active