Under Pressures: High and Low Social Dominance in Multiple Contexts

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Social




Social Dominance Orientation (SDO; Pratto et al., 1994) is an individual difference variable that describes a person's orientation toward group-based hierarchy. It has been associated with avoidant attachment style in interpersonal relationships (Weber & Federico, 2007), but as an orientation toward groups, its relationship to group attachment has not been studied. In addition, low SDO individuals (those who tend to be less prejudiced) are not well understood. Three studies explored the relationship between SDO and group attachment. The first study developed the Attachment to Group Scale, a scale designed to measure individuals' attachment style (secure, anxious-ambivalent, or avoidant) to their groups. The second and third studies examined the effect of intragroup and intergroup threats on participants' ratings of social groups and feelings of closeness to their own group using an abstract manipulation that allowed participants to perceive scenarios about groups that were important to them. These effects were moderated by SDO, secure attachment to the group, anxious-ambivalent attachment to the group, and avoidant attachment to the group. Results suggest that an anxiety about group power and group membership may underlie SDO and that anxious-ambivalent attachment to the group may be able to explain such feelings of anxiety, whereas low SDO participants may feel more secure in their groups and group membership. ^