If they can’t change, why support change? Implicit theories about groups, social dominance orientation and political identity

Dennis T. Kahn, Michal Reifen Tagar, Eran Halperin, Martin Bäckström, Joseph A. Vitriol, Varda Liberman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In three studies across three cultures (U.S., Sweden, and Israel), we examine whether implicit theories about groups are associated with political identity and whether this relationship is mediated by Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). Study 1 found that raising the salience of entity beliefs leads to increased right-wing political self-identification on social issues, although no such effect was found regarding general or economic political identity. In Study 2, we found that the more participants endorsed entity beliefs about groups (vs. incremental beliefs about groups), the more they identified as political rightists (vs. leftists) in the U.S., Sweden, and Israel. SDO mediated this relationship in the U.S. and Swedish samples, but not in the Israeli sample – a political setting in which political identity is largely determined by attitudes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Study 3 showed that SDO mediated the relationship between implicit theories about groups and Israelis’ political identity regarding social/economic issues, but did not have such a mediating role with respect to political identity regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)151-173
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Political Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The second and fourth authors thank the Center for Political Psychology at the University of Minnesota for funding to run Study 1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, PsychOpen. All rights reserved.


  • Group malleability
  • Implicit theories about groups
  • Political identity
  • Political ideology
  • Political psychology
  • Social dominance orientation


Dive into the research topics of 'If they can’t change, why support change? Implicit theories about groups, social dominance orientation and political identity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this