CHAPTER 1 How and Why Are Inequities Maintained? Christine Ma-Kellams Inequity takes many forms, including most commonly those related to race/ethnicity, class/socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and ability. Likewise, the motivational underpinnings for inequity are just as varied. Although inequity is a social problem with consequences at the societal level, its origins and proximal effects can be observed at the level of the individual psyche. From a social-psychological perspective, the ques- tions of how and why inequities are maintained often take the form of classic and well-documented processes such as self-fulfilling prophecy, stereotype threat (and lift), and self-stereotyping, as well as newer phe- nomena such as in-group derogation. Importantly, these explanations can themselves be traced to more basic underlying processes, each with its own rich history of evidence and frameworks. These include sociocogni- tive processes such as system justification, cognitive dissonance, cognitive miser theory, and self-serving biases, which all center on the motivated social cognition that promotes the perpetuation of beliefs contributing to the maintenance of nonexistent inequalities, most often tied to assump- tions about differences between groups. Social cognitions, in turn, may also be related to more fundamental biological factors, including evolved dominance and counterdominance instincts. Given that arguably one of the best ways to understand a species is to figure out what it was programmed to do, evolutionary psychological
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