The nature of social dominance orientation: Theorizing and measuring preferences for intergroup inequality using the new SDO₇ scale

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015 Dec;109(6):1003-28. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000033. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


A new conceptualization and measurement of social dominance orientation-individual differences in the preference for group based hierarchy and inequality-is introduced. In contrast to previous measures of social dominance orientation that were designed to be unidimensional, the new measure (SDO7) embeds theoretically grounded subdimensions of SDO-SDO-Dominance (SDO-D) and SDO-Egalitarianism (SDO-E). SDO-D constitutes a preference for systems of group-based dominance in which high status groups forcefully oppress lower status groups. SDO-E constitutes a preference for systems of group-based inequality that are maintained by an interrelated network of subtle hierarchy-enhancing ideologies and social policies. Confirmatory factor and criterion validity analyses confirmed that SDO-D and SDO-E are theoretically distinct and dissociate in terms of the intergroup outcomes they best predict. For the first time, distinct personality and individual difference bases of SDO-D and SDO-E are outlined. We clarify the construct validity of SDO by strictly assessing a preference for dominance hierarchies in general, removing a possible confound relating to support for hierarchy benefitting the ingroup. Consistent with this, results show that among members of a disadvantaged ethnic minority group (African Americans), endorsement of SDO7 is inversely related to ingroup identity. We further demonstrate these effects using nationally representative samples of U.S. Blacks and Whites, documenting the generalizability of these findings. Finally, we introduce and validate a brief 4-item measure of each dimension. This article importantly extends our theoretical understanding of one of the most generative constructs in social psychology, and introduces powerful new tools for its measurement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Dominance*
  • Social Identification*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*