Egalitarianism: Psychological and socio-ecological foundations

Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington, Lotte Thomsen

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Individual differences in social and political attitudes have their roots in evolved motives for basic kinds of social relationships. Egalitarianism is the preference for the application of the one of these relational models-equality—over that of another—dominance—to the context of societal intergroup relations. We present recent research on the origins of egalitarianism in terms of universal social cognitive mechanisms (activated as early as infancy), systematic (partly heritable) individual differences, and the affordances and constraints of one's immediate and macro-structural context. Just as the psychological impact of socioeconomic conditions depends on the mind being equipped to perceive and navigate them, so the expression of the evolved underpinnings of inequality concerns depends critically on social and societal experiences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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