Considering the roles of Culture and Social Status: The Protestant Work Ethic and Egalitarianism

Luisa Ramírez, Sheri R. Levy, Elizabeth Velilla, Julie M. Hughes

Resumen


The Protestant work ethic (PWE) is prevalent in many
cultures. Abundant work in social psychology, primarily
in the U.S., suggests that people use PWE to justify their
own prejudice and society’s differential treatment of less
successful or disadvantaged persons. Recent theorizing
suggests that PWE’s intergroup meaning can be influenced
by people’s age, social status, and culture such that PWE not
only has an intolerant or “justifier”-of-inequality meaning
(disadvantaged persons deserve their disadvantage), but
also a tolerant or equalizer meaning (effort is a social
equalizer). The main goal of the present investigation was
to show that PWE does not necessarily develop a justifier
meaning within or across cultures. Past work shows that
among the majority group, European Americans, PWE is
positively related to egalitarianism among children but less
so with increasing age, presumably because the justifier
meaning becomes increasingly salient and group relevant
(justifies their groups’ high status). In Study 1, we show
that among the majority group in Colombia, Mestizos,
PWE is positively related to egalitarianism (and negatively
related to social dominance orientation) across age groups,
presumably because the justifier meaning is less salient and
relevant in a culture where people tend to blame others
less for their disadvantage. In Study 2, we show that
among African Americans, who have historically been a disadvantaged and stigmatized group, PWE is positively
related to egalitarianism across age groups, presumably
because the justifier meaning is less relevant and salient
to their group. The implications of these findings are
discussed.

Palabras clave


Lay theories; prejudice; SDO; egalitarianism; PWE; Protestant Work Ethic; Social Dominance Orientation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14349/rlp.v42i3.580

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