Belief in Social Darwinism Linked to Dysfunctional Psychological Characteristics
who subscribe to the theory of Social Darwinism tend to be more hostile
to others, admire power, are more exploitative, and have lower
self-esteem, researchers say.
new survey study links belief in the concept of social Darwinism with
certain dysfunctional psychological characteristics, such as
exploitative attitudes towards others, hostility, and low self-esteem.
Radkiewicz of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Krystyna Skarzynska of
the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland,
present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
who subscribe to social Darwinism view the social world as a sort of
competitive jungle requiring ruthless competition for limited resources,
in which only the “strongest” survive. Social Darwinism includes a
negative view of human nature, holding that people are inherently
selfish and that cynical manipulation is an acceptable route to get
better understand the personal characteristics underlying belief in
social Darwinism, Radkiewicz and Skarzynska conducted a four-part survey
study, with each part including 624 to 853 Polish participants.
they examined links between people’s belief in social Darwinism and
their characteristics regarding attachment styles, the “Big Five”
personality traits, the “Dark Triad” of personality, basic human values,
and moral judgments.
of the survey results revealed links between belief in social Darwinism
and dysfunctional personal characteristics—as opposed to more positive
instance, social Darwinists were more likely to display admiration for
power, a desire to dominate, a desire to pursue their goals at all
costs, and hostility. They were also more likely to have low
self-esteem, low self-sufficiency, and a fearful attachment style in
their close relationships.
results are in line with the idea that social Darwinists hold beliefs
that conflict with the principles of liberal democracy, and their vision
of social life is not conducive to fostering a cooperative, egalitarian
authors also note an underlying “mental split,” in that social
Darwinists tend to worship strength and power while also having a
research could continue to explore the dispositional characteristics
that underlie social Darwinism, as well as a broader collection of
pessimistic views of the social world.
authors add: “The belief that the social world resembles the Darwinian
jungle is conflicting with the ideals of democracy that postulate
maximizing citizens’ wellbeing, minimizing violence, and promoting human
rights. However, it can support adversarial democracy that aims to gain
an advantage over the opponents and deprive them of power, good
reputation, and economic strength.”
Funding: KS PR UMO-2013/09/B/HS6/03071 Polish National Science Center (NCN)
UMO-2016/21/B/HS6/03213 Polish National Science Center (NCN) Krystyna
Skarżyńska Piotr Radkiewicz.
About this psychology research news
Author:Charlotte Bhaskar Source:PLOS Contact:Charlotte Bhaskar – PLOS Image:The image is in the public domain
Who are the ‘social Darwinists’? On dispositional determinants of perceiving the social world as competitive jungle
naive social Darwinism, also called the Competitive Jungle Belief
(CJB), according to the theory of the Dual-Process Motivational (DPM)
model, is recognized as an expanded perceptual scheme acting as a
cognitive mediator between deep individual characteristics and the area
of socio-political attitudes and ideologies.
article aims to show the individual differences that can be
dispositional characteristics to believe in the Competitive Jungle
scheme’s principles. The presented studies’ main theoretical question is
to find out whether the CJB bases on positive “individual resources” or
rather some psychological deficits.
an extensive survey study, including four random-representative samples
of adults Poles (with N ranging from 624 to 853 respondents), we tested
the predictive power of the five categories of variables: 1) attachment
styles; 2) Big Five personality traits; 3) Dark Triad of personality;
4) basic human values and 5) moral judgments.
results showed the psychological profile of social Darwinists as
clearly dysfunctional in terms of personal life quality. They express
characteristics like admiration for power and desire to dominate, pursue
one’s goals at all costs, exploitative attitude towards people, and
the other hand, they reveal a fearful style in close relations with
others and have low self-esteem and low self-sufficiency. From the
societal perspective, such beliefs make up a vision of social life that
is unfavorable for building a cooperative, helpful, and relatively
supreme idea that only those who do not sympathize with others and are
ready to use them can be successful and survive is far from the
principles of liberal democracy.