In­equal­ity: My un­fair dis­ad­van­tage, not your un­earned priv­i­lege

Iran Daily - - Society -

Ef­forts to ad­dress so­cial in­equal­i­ties in in­come, ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity can be boosted sim­ply by the man­ner in which that in­equity is pre­sented, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from Duke Uni­ver­sity’s Fuqua School of Busi­ness.

If you ben­e­fit from an in­equity, how you han­dle the sit­u­a­tion could de­pend upon how it is de­scribed to you, Pro­fes­sor Ash­leigh Shelby Rosette found, fuqua.duke.edu re­ported. Her study tested peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to sur­ren­der part of a bonus at work as a way of study­ing the presentation of an un­just im­bal­ance or in­equity.

“The man­ner in which you frame in­equity or priv­i­lege, whether it’s fo­cused on the self — my un­earned priv­i­lege — or fo­cused on the other — his or her un­fair dis­ad­van­tage — can in­flu­ence the ex­tent to which you want to rec­tify it,” Rosette said.

“When at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence in­di­vid­u­als who are in a po­si­tion to help rec­tify fi­nan­cial and so­cial in­equity, the way in which you phrase it makes a dif­fer­ence,” Rosette said.

Pre­vi­ous re­search had found fram­ing in­equity as a group ad­van­tage made mem­bers of the group more likely to sup­port ef­forts to ad­dress the in­equity. But Rosette found the op­po­site is true for in­di­vid­u­als.

“We show that at the in­di­vid­ual level, when you tell a per­son that what they have re­ceived is un­earned,” Rosette said, “it trig­gers self-serv­ing bi­ases and they be­come less likely to rec­tify the in­equity.”

The study, Fram­ing advantageous in­equity with a fo­cus on oth­ers: A cat­a­lyst for eq­uity restora­tion, is newly pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Ex­per­i­men­tal So­cial Psy­chol­ogy. Rosette worked with Christy Zhou Ko­val of Hong Kong Uni­ver­sity, who re­ceived her PHD at Fuqua.

The re­searchers asked 199 white par­tic­i­pants to imag­ine they were sales as­so­ci­ates who were to re­ceive a per­for­mance bonus. They were told an au­dit had found com­pany pol­icy had as­signed sales op­por­tu­ni­ties un­fairly based on race. Then they were given the op­por­tu­nity to share some or all of their bonus.

Par­tic­i­pants who were told a spe­cific black col­league had been un­fairly dis­ad­van­taged by the pol­icy were will­ing to give up more of the bonus than those told they had been given an un­fair ad­van­tage be­cause they were white. They also gave up more than the par­tic­i­pants who were told that all white per­son­nel were un­de­servedly ad­van­taged, or that all black em­ploy­ees were un­fairly dis­ad­van­taged. A sec­ond study repli­cated the re­sults.

“When we frame in­equity as a per­son’s un­de­served priv­i­lege, that per­son tends to jus­tify their sta­tus by talk­ing down the other party, de­scrib­ing the col­league as lazy or in­com­pe­tent. This dis­par­age­ment then jus­ti­fies their de­ci­sion not to share their re­wards even though they were un­fairly dis­trib­uted in the first place.” Rosette said.

“Sim­ply by chang­ing the fram­ing and pre­sent­ing in­equity as an­other per­son’s un­de­served dis­ad­van­tage, we find peo­ple are more in­ter­ested in ad­dress­ing it and are less likely to blame the other per­son.”

The find­ings sug­gest that un­der­stand­ing how peo­ple think about the dis­ad­van­tages of oth­ers may be just as im­por­tant as un­der­stand­ing how peo­ple think about their own ad­van­tages — es­pe­cially when the goal is to en­cour­age be­hav­iors and poli­cies to re­dress the im­bal­ance.

“It’s two sides of the same coin,” Rosette said. “How you look at it de­ter­mines whether you are will­ing to ad­dress in­equity. Our find­ings sug­gest the fo­cus should be on the dis­ad­van­tages be­stowed upon the other per­son, rather than the un­earned priv­i­leges that ac­cu­mu­late to the self.”

Pub­lished by diem25.org

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