As I was doing research for my Psychology class, I came across an awfully engaging study. The study focused on SDO, or Social Dominance Orientation, which can be defined as the extent to which one endorses social inequalities in society.
The study focused on 113 undergraduate business school students who were given the scenario of a professor making a race related comment about his/her students during a lecture, and whether or not the comment was joking/playful or offensive. Each scenario had varying racial implications (ie Black Professor and White Students, White Students and Black Professor, etc.)
While reading this article, the authors argued that those who are high in SDO are attempting to maintain and defend a historically established hierarchical social order, thus resulting in varying perceptions of offensiveness in regards to race related comments. It is further explained that those high in SDO will be offended if someone who has been considered historically lower in SDO makes a comment that threatens the authority or status of the higher SDO group, but if the high SDO member is the one making the race related comment, it will be viewed as not only not offensive, but potentially carry a weight of truth.
After reading this study, I felt an awful amount of injustice and sense of social responsibility to reverse the mindset that a social hierarchy need be preserved as it has been in the past. Historically, we have been raised upon the idea of superiority amongst humans simply due to the color of one’s skin. How is this logical? Why did people in the past submit to such a theory?
In the state of our current political and social climate, I have found it even more pertinent to voice this concern; I am constantly drowned in my own thoughts, continually questioning how the existence of such hierarchy even came into fruition. Hopefully this question will be answered soon. But for now, I must push through Week 10 and study for finals (ㅠㅠ). Happy Week 10~
Study: “Were they joking? Depends on social dominance orientation”
Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, 13(3), 213-227. (May 2012)