Everything in Its Right Place: Tradition, Order, And The Legitimation Of Long-Standing Inequality

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

The Social Psychology Of Inequality


The social mind has a psychological affinity for tradition that translates into favorable perceptions of existing and longer-standing states. In the context of inequality, the longer prevailing social arrangements are in place, the more fairness and legitimacy they are afforded. In this chapter, we present a model of existence and longevity biases that imbues social inequality with legitimacy. People tolerate and find goodness in long-standing socio-political systems by invoking internal qualities and reasons that vindicate their continued existence. We connect these phenomena to psychological processes that rationalize the status quo and prevent social change. Finally, we consider factors that limit the influence of longevity of existence on the legitimation of inequality and how longevity bias may instead be harnessed for the purposes of creating social change.


Inequality, Tradition, Longevity bias, Existence bias, Status quo maintenance, Heuristics, Naturalistic fallacy, Social stability, System justification

Published By



J. Jetten and K. Peters

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