May 2008 Poll - Discussion

Type and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO)

Social Domininance Orientation is a personality construct within Social Dominance Theory (SDT) . SDT explores how social hierarchies are created and maintained within any particular social system or group. SDT thus invovles, in part, the study of such political and social factors as prejudice, sexism, racism and so forth.

Within SDT, SDO is viewed as an aspect of peresonality that predisposes individual's to support social hiearchies to varying degrees; e.g., people who score high on measures of SDO are more predisposed to supporting a social heiarchy than are those who score low on measures of SDO. Factors that are hypothesized to influence one's SDO include such things as one's sex, socialization, the status of existing group memberships, and--most relevant for this Poll--"temperamental predisposition." 

The few studies exploring the relationship between general personality factors and SDO suggest that people who score low on Agreeableness and Openness to Experience tend to score higher on SDO. To the extent that low scores on Agreeableness relate to a Thinking preference and low scores on Openness relate to a Sensing preference, then we might expect Ss and Ts to score higher on measures of SDO. This notion seems further supported when considering the relationship of type preferences to ideal organizational settings where the ST mental functions group generally indicates a preference for hierarchical organizational designs.

Most studies of SDO have used a 16-item scale treated as a summated scale. More recent studies suggest this 16-item scale may be bi-dimensional. For the May Poll, we chose to include only one of the subscales (to keep the Poll short). As mentioned, this subscale has been termed "Opposition to Equality" and contains such items as "Increased social equality would be a good thing" and "All groups should be given an equal chance in life." The other sub-scale has been termed "Group Based Dominance" and contains such items as "In getting what you want, it is sometimes necessary to use force against other groups" and "To get ahead in life, it is sometimes necessary to step on other groups."

We assessed the dimensionality and reliability of the 8 items used in the May 08 Poll (i.e., the items from the OEQ subscale). We first conducted a factor analysis of the scale. Results generally supported the assumption that all items measured a common dimension. Results from the reliability analysis indicated the scale had high reliability (coefficient alpha = .90).

Following this assessment, we conducted a multiple regression analysis to explore the relationship between SDO and type preferences. The summed score from the Opposition to Equality scale was used as the dependent variable. Independent variables included the four sets of type preferences, age, sex, and self-identified liberal-conservative political orientations.

Results from this analysis indicated:

  • Liberal-Conservative political orientations had the strongest relationship to SDO. Thus, as been found in previous studies with the full SDO questionnaire, more conservative orientations relate positively to more support for " Opposition to Equality" (and thus, SDO).
  • T-F preferences were significantly related to SDO: Thinking types, moreso than Feeling types, reported higher scores on the OEQ subscale. These results seem consistent with studies relating the Big-Five personality factors with SDO, particularly with respect the relationship between Agreeableness and SDO. (Note: The non-siginifcant results for S-N preferences may be due to the small number of Ss in the sample.)
  • No other variables related significantly to the sub-scale (although E-I preferences were near-significant, p = .09).

The above results suggest that type preferences may indeed be related to SDO and thus to various political dynamics that relate to the support of social hierarchies. Futher research with larger samples thus seems warranted (and particularly with samples containing more Ss and those of conservative orientation).

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