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Individualism and Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action: Evidence From Priming Experiments
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Theorists have argued that Americans' ambivalence toward affirmative action policies is fueled by a notion of justice that champions the rights of individuals. This conception of justice is not compatible with the idea of group rights and the notion of group-based social justice. Extending earlier cross-cultural comparisons by Ozawa, Crosby, and Crosby (1996), this hypothesis is tested in 2 experimental studies in which aspects of the self-concept are primed that are typical for individualist or collectivist cultures. Findings show that when individual aspects of the self-concept are primed, Americans are less supportive of group-based remedial policies in a hypothetical discrimination case (Study 1) and are less supportive of existing affirmative action policies (Study 2). At the same time, priming independent aspects of the self-concept fosters the endorsement of meritocratic principles (Study 1).