PSYCHOLOGY: Bridging System and Individual

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Science  20 Apr 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5823, pp. 341b
DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5823.341b

Equal opportunity is not, of course, quite the same thing as equal outcome, as an examination of even a small number of individuals will confirm. Inequalities abound—whether of wealth, educational achievement, or employment history—and can be the source of emotional distress, especially among the advantaged, when they are perceived as having gained these unfairly. Wakslak et al. show how adoption of a justification for inequality (that success is the product of effort and ability) alleviates three facets of emotional distress and then assess which of these mediates enervated support for redistributive social policies. They find that existential guilt and depressed mood (both of which are inwardly directed) were not primary motivations behind attitudes on redistribution but that an other-regarding moral outrage was. — GJC

Psychol. Sci. 18, 267 (2007).

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