Mother Teresa meets Genghis Khan: The dialectics of hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating career choices

Jim Sidanius, Felicia Pratto, Stacey Sinclair, Colette Van Laar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We replicated and extended earlier work showing the connection between social dominance orientation and the perceived attractiveness of hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating careers using data from two large and independent samples of UCLA students. Consistent with expectations, the data from both studies showed that the greater the students' level of social dominance orientation, the more attractive hierarchy-enhancing careers such as criminal prosecutor, police officer, and FBI agent were perceived to be. Similarly, the greater the students' social dominance orientation, the less attractive they found hierarchy-attenuating careers such as public defender, civil rights lawyer, and human rights advocate. These conclusions held even after controlling for the effects of socioeconomic status and political conservatism. Canonical correlation analysis disclosed that the attractiveness of these career paths within the general domain of law made only one, bipolar and unidimensional projection within social dominance space. The nature of this bipolar dimension reproduced the hypothesized distinction between hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating social roles. Theoretical implications of the results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-170
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Justice Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


  • Career choice
  • Discrimination
  • Group dominance


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