Social Justice Research

, 22:416 | Cite as

Reactions to Crime as a Hierarchy Regulating Strategy: The Moderating Role of Social Dominance Orientation

  • Eva G. T. Green
  • Lotte Thomsen
  • Jim Sidanius
  • Christian Staerklé
  • Polina Potanina


Across two studies, we demonstrated that support for group-based hierarchies differentially affects evaluation of ingroup and outgroup criminal offenders and that this effect generalizes to overall evaluations of their respective groups. Drawing on social dominance theory, our results show that differential judgments of national ingroup and immigrant outgroup offenders reflect hierarchy regulating strategies. Study 1 (N = 94) revealed that egalitarians (low on SDO) were more lenient toward outgroup offenders and their ethnic group (Arab immigrants) when compared to ingroup offenders and their national group (Swiss citizens). The opposite was true for social dominators (high on SDO). Study 2 (N = 88) replicated the results of Study 1 and further demonstrated that the socio-economic status of the perpetrator did not affect perpetrator group evaluations suggesting that the arbitrary sets of ethnicity or nationality, not education level and employment status, were the important cues for hierarchy-regulating judgments of criminal offenders.


Social dominance Hierarchy regulation Crime Ethnic minorities 



We are thankful to John Antonakis for statistical advice and to Damien Pelet for his help in conducting Study 2. The first author was funded by a Swiss National Science Foundation grant (81LA-068373).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva G. T. Green
    • 1
  • Lotte Thomsen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jim Sidanius
    • 2
    • 4
  • Christian Staerklé
    • 1
  • Polina Potanina
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social and Political SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Department of African American StudiesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew York CityUSA

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