Everything in Its Right Place: Tradition, Order, and the Legitimation of Long-Standing Inequality

  • John C. BlancharEmail author
  • Scott Eidelman


The social mind has a psychological affinity for tradition that translates into favorable perceptions of existing and longer-standing states. In the context of inequality, the longer prevailing social arrangements are in place, the more fairness and legitimacy they are afforded. In this chapter, we present a model of existence and longevity biases that imbues social inequality with legitimacy. People tolerate and find goodness in long-standing socio-political systems by invoking internal qualities and reasons that vindicate their continued existence. We connect these phenomena to psychological processes that rationalize the status quo and prevent social change. Finally, we consider factors that limit the influence of longevity of existence on the legitimation of inequality and how longevity bias may instead be harnessed for the purposes of creating social change.


Inequality Tradition Longevity bias Existence bias Status quo maintenance Heuristics Naturalistic fallacy Social stability System justification 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySwarthmore CollegeSwarthmoreUSA
  2. 2.University of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

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