Washington: Why do we resist change even when the system is blatantly corrupt or unjust? A new study calls it 'system justification,' the conditions under which we defend the status quo. It isn't the same as acquiescence, explains Aaron C Kay, psychologist at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
 
“It's pro-active. When someone comes to justify the status quo, they also come to see it as what should be,” added Kay. 

Kay, who co-authored the study with University of Waterloo graduate student Justin Friesen, reviewed lab and cross-national studies.
 
Their study clarifies four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability and low personal control, according to a Duke statement.
 
During Hurricane Katrina, many people blamed victims for their fate rather than admitting the official agencies flunked their responsibilities or fixing it. In crisis we want to believe the system works, the study authors suggest.
 
We also defend systems we rely on. In one experiment, students defended their school's funding policy-but disapproved of the same policy if it came from the government, which they didn't perceive as affecting them closely.
 
When we feel we can't escape a system, we adapt. That includes feeling okay about things we might otherwise consider undesirable. But in fact, the more stuck we are, the more likely are we explain away its shortcomings.
 
Finally, a related phenomenon: The less control people feel over their own lives, the more they endorse systems and leaders that offer a sense of order.

(Agencies)