Hierarchy in the mind: The predictive power of social dominance orientation across social contexts and domains

Nour Kteily*, Arnold K. Ho, Jim Sidanius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The question of whether social dominance orientation represents a generalized orientation towards group-based hierarchies continues to arouse heated debate. Some researchers maintain that rather than indexing support for hierarchy across a variety of situations and social contexts, social dominance orientation scores simply reflect individuals' attitudes towards whatever specific context individuals had in mind while completing the scale. We systematically examine the generality of SDO by investigating its pattern of relationships with a very wide range of variables across a variety of disparate contexts, exploring inequality both as an ideal and as manifested in specific policies towards particular groups. We also experimentally test an important question raised by Sibley and Liu (2010) about whether administration of modified instructions to think only of "groups in general" is required to ensure SDO's generality. Evidence that SDO functions as a generalized orientation only when administered with instructions to think of groups in general would be a cause for much concern among the many researchers who have used the unmodified scale to index such an orientation. As expected, our results are clear in suggesting (a) that SDO represents a generalized orientation towards group-based hierarchy, and (b) that this property is not dependent on specific instructions to participants to think only of groups in general. Theoretical and practical implications for the status of SDO are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-549
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • Individual differences
  • Intergroup relations
  • Prejudice
  • Social dominance orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Hierarchy in the mind: The predictive power of social dominance orientation across social contexts and domains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this