Why social dominance theory has been falsified

Br J Soc Psychol. 2003 Jun;42(Pt 2):199-206; discussion 215-23. doi: 10.1348/014466603322127184.


Schmitt, Branscombe and Kappen (2003) and Wilson and Lui (2003) present a persuasive series of studies which raise major problems for the conceptualization of social dominance orientation in social dominance theory. Building on these and other data in the literature, this commentary summarizes six fundamental criticisms which can be made of the theory. We conclude that social dominance theory is flawed by conceptual inconsistencies and has been disconfirmed empirically in relation to its key hypothesis of behavioural asymmetry. The reaction of subordinate groups to the social hierarchy is better explained by social identity theory.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Biology
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Deception*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Class
  • Social Dominance*