Meritocracy and Socially Critical Decisions Towards Low Status Groups

Meritocracy and Socially Critical Decisions Towards Low Status Groups (Rui Costa Lopes)

Funded by FCT, my 5-year FCT Investigator project seeks to study the impact of the salience of a meritocratic norm on Socially Critical Decisions (SCD) that people make towards members of low status groups.

Most research on SCD has been more focused in showing the existence of more unfavorable decisions towards low status group members (compared to high status group members) than in explaining it. Importantly, a significant factor that has been consistently shown to impact on group-based distinctions has been neglected by SCD research: the salience of a meritocratic norm. This project addresses this gap by testing the idea that meritocracy leads to more unfavorable SCD towards low status groups through an increase in legitimacy perceptions and implicit prejudice.

Within this project, I intend to develop three workpackages devoted to three different examples of SCD: shoot vs. not-shoot police decisions, medical decisions and decisions about moral dilemmas. These different decisional contexts will allow studying both snapshot and more deliberate SCD, and contexts where the decision-makers are not always in a position of formal authority over the target. The general approach to this research involves the conduction of experimental studies that include 1) the manipulation of the salience of meritocracy, 2) the measurement of legitimacy perceptions, 3) the measurement of implicit prejudice towards low status group members and 4) the measurement of SCD outcomes.