Implications Of Longevity Bias For Explaining, Evaluating, And Responding To Social Inequality

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Social Justice Research


Longevity bias is the tendency to assume that longstanding states of the world are better and more right than their more recent (but otherwise identical) counterparts. In the current study, we take an individual differences approach by directly measuring people’s endorsements of the assumptions underlying longevity bias and consider several downstream implications of this bias for the perpetuation and maintenance of inequality. Specifically, we test the idea that the assumptions underlying longevity bias correspond with intrinsic explanations for social inequality, the justification of inequality as good and right, and thus prevent or subdue moral outrage and reduce motivation for meaningful social change. Our findings indicate that people vary in their susceptibility to conflate longevity of existence with goodness and rightness, individual variation in longevity bias predicts explanations for and the perceived legitimacy of social inequality, and this translates into psychological barriers for enacting social change.


Inequality, Tradition, Longevity bias, Status quo maintenance, Naturalistic fallacy, System justification