Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Psychology

Supervisor(s)

Donald Saklofske

Abstract

Individual differences are pivotal in predicting sociopolitical views, which in turn guide behaviours like voting decisions, career choices, or engagement in activism. Compassion, a trait related to empathy and prosocial behaviour, has shown promise in predicting reduced hostile, anti-egalitarian attitudes. Certain kinds of political beliefs can be termed hierarchy-legitimizing in that they perpetuate or enhance existing societal hierarchies, such as economic inequality or racial discrimination. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between compassion for others and hierarchy-legitimizing viewpoints, as mediated by the characteristic of Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). A sample of 590 undergraduate students completed measures of compassion, SDO, empathic concern, and a social policy questionnaire. A partially latent structural equation model was constructed, finding that SDO mediated the relationship between compassion and hierarchy-legitimization. The results have implications for the relevance of prosocial individual differences in political psychology, and for understanding the personality underpinnings of anti-egalitarianism.


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