Yes We Can! A Dual-Motive Approach to System Change

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Title: Yes We Can! A Dual-Motive Approach to System Change
Creators: Goldfarb, Micah
Advisor: Fujita, Kentaro
Issue Date: 2011-06
Abstract: Systems are social arrangements and rules that allow society to function. Systems provide structure to people’s lives, however they are not always maximally efficient and advantage some over others. Surprisingly, people favor these systems, even when disadvantaged by them. System justification theory explains that people defend such systems due to fear of the uncertainty associated with change. We propose that there are two contrasting motives when contemplating system change: short-term system-justification vs. a long-term system-improvement motive. We believe that people in the long-term aspire to live in better systems; yet system change produces uncomfortable anxiety in the short-term. We propose that whether people act upon system-justification vs. system-improvement motives depends on the perceived level of changeability along with their subjective construals, or interpretations, of events, which can vary in abstraction. Previous research has shown that high-level (abstract) as compared to low-level (concrete) construals help people act in ways that serve their long-term goals. We hypothesize that high- vs. low-level construals will promote system-improvement over system-justification motives. The valence of system information that a person seeks can indicate which of the dual-motives is being pursued. The current study examines how changeability and construal levels interact to determine motive selection. Both factors were manipulated and the motive selected (improvement vs. justification) was measure through an information search paradigm. We found that when a sense of changeability was created, participants at high-level construals were less likely to system justify.
Embargo: No embargo
Series/Report no.: The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2011
Keywords: Dual-Motive System Change
Sponsors: Social and Behavioral Science Research Grant.
Undergraduate Research Scholarship.
Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship.
Description: The 2011 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum - Third Place
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