The Role of Social Ideologies in Legitimizing Political Attitudes and Public Policy

  • Felicia Pratto
  • Christie Cathey
Part of the Social Psychological Applications to Social Issues book series (SPAS)


In democracies, citizens are supposed to be free to decide what laws and institutional practices they believe are right, and to enact those beliefs through political influence. In such a context, it makes sense for researchers to ask why people support the politicians, political parties, and policies that they do (e.g., Himmelweit, Humphreys, & Jaeger, 1985), how cultural context influences people’s political preferences (e.g., Schwartz & Bardi, 1997), and to identify the political consequences of political attitudes (e.g., Rokeach, 1973). As Skitka and Mullen’s (this volume) review shows, many basic psychological processes influence people’s political attitudes. Political psychology must also consider the political implications and cultural meaning of political attitudes because (1) Political psychology must address politics: power relations between people and (2) Cultural context influences individuals’ attitudes (e.g., Pettigrew, 1958; Schwartz & Bardi, 1997). By examining the political meaning of political attitudes both to individuals and for their society, we will show how individual-level and societal-level processes influence each other. We first describe approaches to why people hold political attitudes and consequences of such attitudes. This review illuminates methodological difficulties and important empirical patterns. We then explicate social dominance theory’s analysis of ideologies as legitimizing political attitudes and social policies, and discuss the political and cultural implications of this analysis.


Political Attitude Social Dominance Policy Opinion Policy Attitude Social Dominance Orientation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felicia Pratto
    • 1
  • Christie Cathey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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