ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (12): 2238-2248.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.02238

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Three explanatory perspectives on the root of system justification

YANG Shenlong1, GUO Yongyu2(), YU Feng1(), RAO Tingting1, ZHAO Liang1, XU Liying1   

  1. 1. Institute of Social Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, 710049, China;
    2. School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, 210097, China
  • Received:2017-10-17 Online:2018-12-15 Published:2018-10-30
  • Contact: Yongyu GUO,Feng YU;


System justification theory proposes that people have the natural tendency to see the current sociopolitical systems as fair and legitimate, which is called system justification. But what are the roots of system justification? Researchers have provided explanations from three distinct perspectives. The cognitive dissonance perspective posits that the tendency to justify the current system exists because people want to alleviate those bad feelings which often arise when they feel the system cannot meet their need. The second perspective is compensatory control, which argues that system justification is derived from a sense of lacking control. By a system-legitimating process one can find a sense of order to cope with the threat of personal control. The third perspective is social cognitive process, which proposes that people express a salient and inherent attributional tendency when explaining socioeconomic disparities. It is the attributional style that serves as a main source of system justification. The future study should include explanatory variables from different theoretical perspectives in one study, draw on the findings of similar fields to explore other possible mechanisms, seek sources of system justification peculiar to Chinese culture, and explore the application issues based on distinguishing positive and negative system justification.

Key words: system justification, cognitive dissonance, compensatory control, social cognition

CLC Number: