Maintenance and Innocence: Psychosocial Motivations that Determine Dominance Strategies of High-status Groups

  • Jonathan Kang University of Oslo, Norway


In contexts of progressive social change towards more egalitarian intergroup relations, dominant social groups experience changes to their status and group image. This can threaten the security of two social needs for power and social acceptance, motivating individuals to attenuate these threats. These motivations are to maintain their high status position (i.e. maintenance motivation) and to be perceived as innocent of unfair advantages (i.e. innocence motivation). The present research examines the effects of these motivations in individual members of high-status social groups. Maintenance and innocence motivations were hypothesized to predict the endorsement of four dominance strategies among white U.S. Americans and male U.S. Americans (N = 343). The strategies predicted were defensive helping, willful ignorance, competitive victimhood, and blatant hostility. Multiple regression analyses were performed in order to determine the main effects and interaction effects of the two motivations on each strategy.