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Title: Understanding the Ideological and Cognitive Motives that Promote the Continued Existence of Free Market Capitalism in America
Authors: Zima, Paul
Advisors: Coman, Alin
Contributors: Osherson, Daniel
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: With such widespread social and economic inequality in the United States, it is somewhat surprising that Americans continue to strongly support the ideals of free market capitalism. In an attempt to understand why the United States hasn’t developed a more expansive welfare state, like the majority of Western nations, this thesis will explore how the “dominant stratification ideology” in America (Huber & Form, 1973) influences attitudes toward economic inequality and social welfare programs. Findings from the first experiment demonstrate that Americans are less likely to embrace progressive changes to the existing economic system, when they (1) more strongly value the ideological norms of economic individualism and meritocracy, and (2) when they more strongly perceive that each individual is in control of his or her economic fate. In addition to considering how widely-endorsed ideologies have perpetuated the existing social structure in the US, the second study of this thesis investigates cognitive motives (i.e. ideological dissonance and the Just-World theory) that have helped promote and maintain the status quo. Findings from the second experiment illustrate that heightening the saliency of certain ideologies related to political conservatism (i.e. the belief in a just world) can induce participants to engage in systemjustification behavior.
Extent: 55 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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