Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?

Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in—a government, company, or marriage—even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust? A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we're motivated to defend the status quo—a process called "system justification."

System justification isn't the same as acquiescence, explains Aaron C. Kay, a psychologist at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, who co-authored the paper with University of Waterloo graduate student Justin Friesen. "It's pro-active. When someone comes to justify the status quo, they also come to see it as what should be."

Reviewing laboratory and cross-national studies, the paper illuminates four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability, and low personal control.

When we're threatened we defend ourselves—and our systems. Before 9/11, for instance, President George W. Bush was sinking in the polls. But as soon as the planes hit the World Trade Center, the president's approval ratings soared. So did support for Congress and the police. During Hurricane Katrina, America witnessed FEMA's spectacular failure to rescue the hurricane's victims. Yet many people blamed those victims for their fate rather than admitting the agency flunked and supporting ideas for fixing it. In times of crisis, say the authors, we want to believe the system works.

We also defend systems we rely on. In one experiment, students made to feel dependent on their university defended a school funding policy—but disapproved of the same policy if it came from the government, which they didn't perceive as affecting them closely. However, if they felt dependent on the government, they liked the policy originating from it, but not from the school.

When we feel we can't escape a system, we adapt. That includes feeling okay about things we might otherwise consider undesirable. The authors note one study in which participants were told that men's salaries in their country are 20% higher than women's. Rather than implicate an unfair system, those who felt they couldn't emigrate chalked up the wage gap to innate differences between the sexes. "You'd think that when people are stuck with a system, they'd want to change it more," says Kay. But in fact, the more stuck they are, the more likely are they to explain away its shortcomings. Finally, a related phenomenon: The less control people feel over their own lives, the more they endorse systems and leaders that offer a sense of order.

The research on system justification can enlighten those who are frustrated when people don't rise up in what would seem their own best interests. Says Kay: "If you want to understand how to get social change to happen, you need to understand the conditions that make resist change and what makes them open to acknowledging that change might be a necessity."

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kevinrtrs
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 13, 2011
Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?
Possibly the same reasons why people accept the Big Bang story and evolution - one very unjust, inept and corrupt system.Of course from the atheist's point of view it would also seem to be the same reason(s) that I accept the existence of a creator for all things. Though I'd like to think my reasons for doing so are motivated by a far more optimistic outlook than that of the atheist.
Take for instance the insistence from the article
"Book explores discoveries in cosmology and how our universe could have come from nothing" http://www.physor...rse.html
that something came from nothing. How do they know that it came from nothing? Were they there to witness it and record it for posterity? Does the so-called evidence necessarily make it a fact that something came from nothing? One can only take it on faith - if one insists that there is no creator. Similar to my belief in one
FrankHerbert
2.2 / 5 (13) Dec 13, 2011
How about the Catholic Church Kevin? Certainly it is unjust, inept and corrupt.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.1 / 5 (11) Dec 13, 2011
Kevin. God just called me and told me that he wants you to stop believing in him. He said that he finds you an embarrassment because you are a defect in his grand design.

He told me that he designed men to think and act rationally based on observation of his creation and that your faith in his existence is irrational behaviour and proof of his design failure.

God called me because... Well he doesn't have your cell phone number. Now don't try praying to him because he doesn't want you cell phone number either. He isn't interested in talking to you any more.

So there you go Kev... You blew it.

Now don't go thinking that it's time to side with Lucifer. He called me right after God and told me that he doesn't want you either.

Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
The modern world doesn't work like the ancient world, because information technology and the "status quo" make uprisings, rebellions, or even just saying something negative about the system harder.

In spite of what happened in Egypt. Mubarak was under pressure from the world governments. His own people accomplished very little in their rebellion.

In the U.S., the "occupy" movement has all but been crushed, and accomplished next to nothing.

Ultimately, "freedom of speech" ends up being nearly useless, because it's like the little childrens saying, "Sticks and stones"...

Talking about what's wrong doesn't help, because the corrupt people in power don't give a damn, and for the most part, normal people can't run for office, because you have to be a millionaire.

Change it?

WTF?!

What can I do to change the U.S. government? My vote is meaningless. A shadow government of electorates gets to pick the president, and for all I know, other elections are probably rigged.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
The modern world doesn't work like the ancient world, because information technology and the "status quo" make uprisings, rebellions, or even just saying something negative about the system harder.

The Arab Spring would beg to differ. This is way more than just Egypt.
http://en.wikiped...#Algeria
Information and coordination of uprisings is crucial. Unccordinated uprisings in individual towns can be put down one at a time. military can be shifted about as needed. In this way a relatively small force can keep a country in check.
But get it to occur all at once, everywhere and the military is powerless.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
Like I can SAY what I want to say, but then there is reprisals.

The stupid people don't want to hear about it, too interested in ruining their own lives more.

The corrupt people are part of the problem.

WE have a government that dosn't enforce the law, and CONVICTED thieves, rapists, and murderers have more rights than honest people, and illegal aliens get free medical care without paying taxes...

We have a court system that employs an uneducted Jury that can't even understand the evidence, and this results in tons of people being convicted for crimes they didn't do, or not being convicted for crimes they did do...

Yet NOBODY does a damn thing about it.

Then again, why would they? 40% of our population are content to just get drunk or high every day or two, and just don't think about anything too much, and that's their day to day dream, even what they seem to hope for...

It's pathetic, really.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
The Arab Spring would beg to differ. This is way more than just Egypt.


The Arab Spring worked primarily because the U.S. and Europe put military and economic pressure on the dictators.

It actually had little to do with the internet.

In Libya, we bombed the hell out of Ghaddafi and totally destroyed his entire military in 2 days, using only a total 6 ships, and a few aircraft, as I recall.

Without the threat of U.S. and European intervention, the Egyptian uprising never would have been successful.

The Egyptian military didn't want to give up, and they still don't, but they were more afriad of U.S. and Europe than they were motivated to keep Mubarak in power. So now they are stuck between a rock and hard place, but without the U.N., the common people would have had no teeth, just words...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
In Libya, we bombed the hell out of Ghaddafi and totally destroyed his entire military in 2 days, using only a total 6 ships, and a few aircraft, as I recall.

You may recall that the uprising was well underway before that. Without telecom infrastructure it would not even have gotten started (whether it might have been successfull without outsie intervention we'll never know).
But without that country-wide start there would never have been any intervention at all. There would have been some local repression actions by the military (like in Syria now) and no one would have given a damn.

Chinese bloggers or the likes of Ai Weiwei would be impossible without the internet - even as censored as it is over there.
Jordana
4 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
It is not fair to say that theories such as evolution and the Big Bang Theory are corrupt or wrong. They are theories, not law, but they are also supported by evidence. However, anyone who wants to sit behind their computer screen and try to rip someones faith apart is in the wrong. This article has little to do with religion anyways.
rawa1
2 / 5 (4) Dec 13, 2011
Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?
Because they're unjust, inept and corrupt too? This explains, why these systems appear OK from their perspective. For example, 9/10 people here are refusing cold fusion, aether theory, etc. although they have no other viable alternative for survival or explanation of things. 6/10 people are still refusing evolution. It's time to say, they're just plain religious and silly and it has no meaning to speculate about it deeper.
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 13, 2011
It's also not fair (and quite hypocritical for the religious) to label such theories as religions.
Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?
Because they're unjust, inept and corrupt too? This explains, why these systems appear OK from their perspective. For example, 9/10 people here are refusing cold fusion, aether theory, etc. although they have no other viable alternative for survival or explanation of things. 6/10 people are still refusing evolution. It's time to say, they're just plain religious and silly and it has no meaning to speculate about it deeper.


"The Paranoid Style in American Politics"
http://karws.gso....yle.html

"The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic termshe traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds...
The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral supermansinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel..."
kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Dec 16, 2011
"Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?"
Because they're conservatives, simply.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Dec 17, 2011
"Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?"
Because they're conservatives, simply.

But it is the socialist systems that are corrupt and must lead to corruption and tyranny.
Socialism is flawed at its core because it must violate rights to guarantee some utopian 'right' to a 'good' life.
This flaw leads to corruption and socialists defend the systems because of a human inner conflict.
"The search for a way out of the conflict that characterizes the human condition can lead to the belief in a utopia where conflict has been vanquished once and for all, a utopia which may be the heaven of religion or a 'theory of everything' that one finds in science."
The Blind Spot, Byers, p.151.
Most conservatives I know acknowledge this conflict by supporting laws that protect individual rights.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Dec 17, 2011
"If the natural tendencies of
mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free,
how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good?
Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to
the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are
made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?"
"But these organizers desire access to the tax funds and to
the power of the law in order to carry out their plans. In addition
to being oppressive and unjust, this desire also implies the fatal
supposition that the organizer is infallible and mankind is
incompetent."
"The state is that great fiction by which everyone
tries to live at the expense of everyone else."
http://www.fee.or..._Law.pdf
Nanobanano
5 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2011
"The state is that great fiction by which everyone
tries to live at the expense of everyone else."


Sums up the 1% very well: Pay employees as little as possible, charge twice as much for everything as it's actually worth. Force congress to pass tax loopholse so they don't pay taxes at all.

Yeah, way to go, Rygg.

Shame on Obama and the democrats for caving to the Aristocracy yet again, by not pushing for the millionaires tax.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2011
People defend corrupt systems because they are blind to the reality.

this is a learned behavior from early childhood, whereby society programs you to be a "team spirit" type person.

i.e.
Most people root for their local college or pro football team, even when there are much better teams around. You'll even find people voting a 5 loss team as better than an undefeated team in polls.

Cults and nations are the same way. There is this self deception involved whereby the person believes the group has something to offer which is better than what they would have elsewhere.

There is this tendency to justify questionable behaviors because we are programmed to do so in school, work place, and in the family: submission to "authority". One finds themself saying, "Something is wrong with this...," whatever it is, but then second guess themselve, "maybe it's just me..."

"Maybe it's just me...," can keep a person in the wrong place a lot longer than they should be there.
Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 17, 2011
You are cattle.

AT work, especially at church, and in the market place, you are nothing more than a sheep to be fleeced. When they are done with you, you will be discarded and forgotten.

What you need to understand is that even whenever you finally realize this, you will not be able to do anything about it.

Even if a cow knew the truth of it's condition, it could do nothing to help itself. The Farmer has both the guns and the prods.

Indeed, the cow comes to rely on the Farmer, because it often can't even feed itself without the farmer opening a gate to let it in or out.

You believe you are "free", but in reality you live in a slave state.

It happens to be a wealthy slave state, but that is what it is.

You are controlled by the aristocracy.

they allow you the illusion of freedom, but it is only an illusion.

Your banker (40% owned by the same group world wide,) could have you fired at any time, and foreclose on your home in three months...
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Dec 18, 2011
Systems don't start out corrupt. Say you start a bar association for lawyers to promote ethics and professionalism among your colleagues. You draft and vote in a constitution of standards.
How do you plan to police your fellows? Say the association gains a good reputation, the association grows in size and influence. Then several influential member are caught violating the codes of conduct. Do you boot them out and risk tarnishing the reputation of the association or do you try to cover it up? That's one way the corruption begins. The cover-up, the lies, lead to the corruption.
I bet many wish Penn State had acted earlier.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Dec 18, 2011
foreclose on your home in three months...

Why? They have too many houses already that are costing them millions.
All banks are heavily regulated and controlled by their respective govts.
Separate the state monopoly on force from the state monopoly on money.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Dec 18, 2011
"Youve got a lot of happy law professors, who dont want to change anything, Ms. Rapoport said. They may not realize how precarious legal education is, and the legal market is, right now. Thats human nature. Everything is going well. Lets keep it the way it is. "
"By 1935, the A.B.A., with an assist from the Association of American Law Schools, had persuaded nine states to adopt rules that required a degree from an approved law school. In the next six years, 32 more states followed. Victory for the A.B.A. was complete when the G.I. Bill mandated that federal loans for returning soldiers could be used only at A.B.A.-approved law schools. "
"The A.B.A. is a powerful group that has a strong status-quo bias, he says. Getting them to turn things around is obviously quite difficult because theyre looking out for their own interests. "
http://www.nytime...wanted=5