Taking the High Ground: The Impact of Social Status on the Derogation of Ideological Opponents

Aiden Gregg, Nikhila Mahadevan, Constantine Sedikides

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People tend to derogate their ideological opponents. But how does social status affect this tendency? We tested a prediction derived from hierometer theory that people with higher status would derogate ideological opponents less (i.e., evaluate them more charitably). We further predicted that greater rhetoric handling prowess (RHP: feeling more confident and less intimidated while arguing) would mediate the effect. Study 1 established a link between higher status and lesser opponent derogation correlationally. Study 2 did so experimentally. Using a scale to assess RHP developed and validated in Study 3, Study 4 established that RHP statistically mediated the correlational link between status and derogation. In Study 5, experimentally manipulating status affected RHP as predicted. However, in Study 6, experimentally manipulating RHP did not affect opponent derogation as predicted. Thus, our findings were substantially, but not entirely, consistent with our theoretically-derived predictions. Implications for hierometer theory, and related theoretical approaches, are considered.

© 2018, Guilford Press. The attached document (embargoed until 30/01/2018) is an author produced version of a paper published in Social Cognition, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-77
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jan 2018

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