Decision-making in social systems: injustice, inequality, and ignorance

Miles-Wilson, Jolyon Joseph (2022) Decision-making in social systems: injustice, inequality, and ignorance. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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I present three studies exploring decision-making in artificial social systems that provide insight on the situational factors and individual differences relevant to political engagement. Studies 1 and 2 aimed to provide insight, using a value-expectancy approach, into the dynamics of individual and group opposition to systemically unfair social contexts. Participants were placed in live interactive groups that highlighted a “class difference” between “Elite” and non-Elite participants. Non-Elite participants made incentive-based decisions to support or challenge the system. In Study 1, I found that individuals were more likely to challenge the system when acting in a group compared to when acting alone. This result was accompanied by greater feelings of efficacy when in a group, but only when participants strongly identified with one another. In Study 2, I showed that efforts to challenge the system were undermined by the opportunity to freeride only when the class difference was not emphasised; when the difference between Elites and Non-Elites was salient, participants were no less likely to challenge when freeriding was possible compared to when it was not. In both studies, the availability of coordinating information reduced the relevance of social identity in moderating feelings of efficacy. These findings add to the literature on collective action by experimentally demonstrating when mobilisation is more likely. Study 3 aimed to explore the extent to which individuals are motivated to discover whether their immediate social context is fair or unfair, and what individual difference traits predict these decisions. Participants completed a task in pairs and were subsequently made aware of the possibility they had been paid differently to their partner. Participants could discover whether payments were unfair or remain in ignorance. The results showed that several individual differences were important for this decision. The most compelling was System Justification, which had a complex influence on participants’ comfort not knowing and whether they chose to seek information. Taken together, the thesis contributes empirical data to an understanding of the attitudes and behaviour of constituents of (potentially) unjust social systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0199 Behaviourism. Neobehaviourism. Behavioural psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0711 Groups and organisations > HM0716 Social groups. Group dynamics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 08:59
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2022 08:23

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