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Opposing Paths to Ideology: Group-Based Relative Deprivation Predicts Conservatism Through Warmth Toward Ingroup and Outgroup Members


Group-based relative deprivation (GRD) is a critical predictor of support for social change. Because resistance to change and acceptance of inequality are core features of a conservative ideology, we predicted that GRD would negatively correlate with conservatism. Moreover, given the central role affect plays in bridging the association between experiences with inequality and group-based responses, we expected that this hypothesized relationship would be mediated by intergroup emotions. We tested these hypotheses in a large national sample of Māori (N = 685)—the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. As predicted, GRD was indirectly associated with conservatism through participants’ warmth toward the majority outgroup (i.e., New Zealand Europeans) and the minority ingroup (i.e., Māori): whereas GRD was negatively correlated with warmth toward outgroup members, GRD was positively correlated with warmth toward the ingroup. In turn, warmth toward the (a) outgroup and (b) ingroup was positively and negatively associated with conservatism, respectively. Similar results were obtained when replacing conservatism with participants’ (a) satisfaction with the government and (b) support for New Zealand’s main center-right political party. Our findings demonstrate the complex relationship between GRD and political beliefs, while also highlighting the crucial role of emotions in connecting GRD with group-based attitudes.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Because people tend to offer similar affective ratings for ingroup and outgroup members (see Sears & Savalei, 2012), we also estimated the residual correlation between participants’ warmth toward the majority outgroup and minority ingroup. Removal of this residual correlation from our model does not, however, substantively alter the results presented below.

  2. 2.

    We ran an additional set of analyses to examine the possibility that participants’ political ideology was indirectly associated with their experience of GRD via warmth toward the (a) majority outgroup and (b) minority ingroup (after controlling for our covariates). These analyses indicated that political conservatism was positively associated with warmth toward the majority outgroup (B = 0.104, SE = .047, p = .026) but was unassociated with warmth toward the minority ingroup (B = −0.070, SE = .043, p = .105). In turn, warmth toward the (a) majority outgroup and (b) minority ingroup was negatively and positively associated with GRD, respectively (B = −0.343, SE = .053, p < .001 vs. B = 0.461, SE = .062, p < .001, respectively). Inspection of the separate mediational pathways indicated that warmth toward the majority outgroup mediated the relationship between conservatism and GRD (B = −0.036, SE = .016, p = .041), but that the mediational pathway between conservatism and GRD through warmth toward the minority ingroup was unreliable (B = −0.032, SE = .020, p = .108). A comparison between these two mediational pathways indicated that they were of similar magnitude (B contrast = −0.003, SE = .032, p = .922).


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Data collection for Time 3 of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) was supported by University of Auckland FRDF (3624435/9853) and ECREA (3626075) grants awarded to Chris G. Sibley, a University of Auckland FRDF (3700683/9853) grant awarded to Danny Osborne, and Performance-Based Research Funds jointly awarded to Chris G. Sibley and Danny Osborne. Additional funding was provided by a Templeton World Charity Foundation Grant (ID: 0077).

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Osborne, D., Sibley, C.G. Opposing Paths to Ideology: Group-Based Relative Deprivation Predicts Conservatism Through Warmth Toward Ingroup and Outgroup Members. Soc Just Res 28, 27–51 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-014-0227-1

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  • Relative deprivation
  • Conservatism
  • Affect
  • Ingroup
  • Outgroup
  • Ideology
  • Intergroup emotions