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Sunday, April 08, 2012

On not valorising Happiness

"We have only partially dealt with the perplexing question of why people support the system so enthusiastically, especially when it clearly does not benefit them. We suggest that justifying the status quo satisfies several social and psychological needs - including epistemic needs for consistency, coherence, and certainty, and existential needs to manage various forms of thread and distress and to find meaning in life... The status quo has many advantages over counter-factual alternatives: It is familiar, predictable, safe, and (due to system-justifying biases) subjectively exeprienced as desirable, natural, and just. People often assume that existing arrangements are for the best, and that if alternatives really worked better, then they would have already been adopted. Sticking with the status quo provides a simple and easy way of meeting a variety of psychological needs. Threats to the legitimacy or stability of the system, on the other hand, may elicit feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and dissonance concerning one's role in the larger system.

... Both those who are advantaged and those who are disadvantage by the system are susceptible to experiencing emotional distress... The powerful may experience guilt over their relatively advantage position, particularly when it appears to be undeserved. For example, European Americans experience guilt and dissonance when confronted with evidence of fellow group members' prejudicial or discriminatory actions toward African Americans... Similarly, men who are reminded of their gender privilege experience increased guilt and decreased well-being... To assauge their guilt, ease their consciences, and reduce dissonance arising from inequality in the system, people rationalize their own advantages... and derogate those who are disadvantaged...

According to system justification theory, the disadvantaged may lower their own aspirations and adapt to the status quo to minimize the anger and resentment evoked by a system with impermeable boundaries. For example, Kluegel and Smith (1986) found that poor people who blamed themselves for thir own poverty reported feeling more positive emotion, less guilt, and greater satisfaction than did poor people who made external attributions for their situation. Similarly, Jost, Pelham, and colleagues (2003) found in a national survey that holding the belief that inequality is both legitimate and necessary was associated with increased satisfaction, regardless of a respondent's income level... African Americans and people who were lower in SES were more likely than others to believe that SES differences were necessary and legitimate, apparently because they had stronger needs to justify the system in order to reduce cognitive dissonance and resotre positive affect"

--- Handbook of Motivation Science / James Y. Shah, Wendi L. Gardner

Also, if Psychic Harm were an Actionable form of Harm, the Progressive Agenda would be undermined (we need more compelling reasons to tell people the system is prejudiced against them, and we are less justified in using 'Privilege' as a stick to hit people on the head).

This is especially so considering that these analyses are agnostic as to the truth value of the propositions (i.e. it doesn't matter if the beliefs are true or not).
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