Social dominance orientation predicts lower moral condemnation of causing harm to animals
More details
Hide details
Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland
Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2020-11-25
Final revision date: 2021-03-06
Acceptance date: 2021-03-22
Online publication date: 2021-05-03
Publication date: 2021-07-19
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2021;9(3):229–236
Recent studies and theorizing (SD-HARM model) suggested that social dominance orientation (SDO) constitutes the ideological foundation of negative attitude towards animals and acceptance of their exploitation. At the same time, right-wing authoritarian-ism (RWA) is expected to predict speciesist beliefs only when they are perceived as part of societal tradition. The present studies investigated these predictions with moral condemnation of harm done to animals by humans as an indicator of speciesism.

Participants and procedure:
400 and 324 people, aged 18-87, took part in two cross-sectional studies. They reported their levels of SDO and RWA and made moral judgments of harm done to animals.

In both studies, SDO, but not RWA, negatively predicted moral condemnation of harming animals.

The results offer additional support for the SD-HARM model. The more people accept SDO beliefs, the less they morally con-demn harm done to animals by humans.

Asbrock, F., Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2010). Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation and the dimensions of generalized prejudice: a longitudinal test: Dimensions of generalized prejudice. Euro-pean Journal of Personality, 24, 324–340.
Bilewicz, M., Imhoff, R., & Drogosz, M. (2011). The humanity of what we eat: Conceptions of human unique-ness among vegetarians and omnivores. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 201–209.
Caviola, L., Everett, J. A. C., & Faber, N. S. (2019). The moral standing of animals: Towards a psychology of speciesism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116, 1011–1029.
Dhont, K., & Hodson, G. (2014). Why do right-wing adherents engage in more animal exploitation and meat consumption? Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 12–17.
Dhont, K., Hodson, G., Costello, K., & MacInnis, C. C. (2014). Social dominance orientation connects prejudi-cial human-human and human-animal relations. Personality and Individual Differences, 61–62, 105–108.
Dhont, K., Hodson, G., & Leite, A. C. (2016). Common ideological roots of speciesism and generalized ethnic prejudice: The Social Dominance Human-Animal Relations Model (SD-HARM). European Journal of Per-sonality, 30, 507–522.
Dhont, K., Hodson, K., Leite, A. C., & Salmen, A. (2020). The psychology of speciesism. In K. Dhont & G. Hod-son (Eds.), Why we love and exploit animals: Bridging insights from academia and advocacy. Routledge.
Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C. G. (2010). Personality, ideology, prejudice, and politics: a dual-process motivational model. Journal of Personality, 78, 1861–1894.
Funke, F. (2005). The dimensionality of right-wing authoritarianism: Lessons from the dilemma between theory and measurement. Political Psychology, 26, 195–218.
Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral foundations the-ory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 55–130.
Haidt, J. (2003). The moral emotions. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 852–870). Oxford University Press.
Hodson, G., & Dhont, K. (2015). The person-based nature of prejudice: Individual difference predictors of inter-group negativity. European Review of Social Psychology, 26, 1–42.
Hudson, S. T. J., Cikara, M., & Sidanius, J. (2019). Preference for hierarchy is associated with reduced empathy and increased counter-empathy towards others, especially outgroup targets. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 85, 103871.
Kessler, T., & Cohrs, J. C. (2008). The evolution of authoritarian processes: Fostering cooperation in large-scale groups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 12, 73–84.
Nicol, A. A. M., & Rounding, K. (2013). Alienation and empathy as mediators of the relation between social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism and expressions of racism and sexism. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 294–299.
Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1999). Social dominance: an intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. Cambridge University Press.
Copyright: © Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk This is an Open Access journal, all articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.