The roots of ecological dominance orientation: Assessing individual preferences for an anthropocentric and hierarchically organized world
Uenal F., Sidanius J., Maertens R., Hudson SKTJ., Davis G., Ghani A.
Ecological dominance is a central concept in the study of interspecies and species-environment relations. Yet, although theoretical and empirical work on ecological dominance has progressed in many scientific disciplines, the psychology of ecological dominance remains understudied. The present research advances theoretical and empirical inquiry on ecological dominance as a psychological construct, examining how it relates to humans’ attitudes, beliefs, and behavior across different relational domains (i.e., intraspecies, interspecies, human-environment). To this end, we validate a novel measure, the Ecological Dominance Orientation (EDO) scale, based on the popular iconic depiction of ecocentric versus anthropocentric arrangements of the relationship between humans, nonhuman animals, and the natural environment. In five pre-registered studies across two countries (N = 2407), we demonstrate that EDO a) relates to various attitudes in a similar fashion both within and between different relational domains, b) is uniquely associated with socially consequential attitudes (i.e., modern sexism, speciesism, dehumanization) above established measures of personal ideology, c) is reliable over time, d) relates to a distinct set of personality correlates, and e) uniquely predicts pro-environmental behavior. This research extends classical Social Dominance Theory (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) by theorizing about the socio-ecological roots of intergroup, interspecies, and human-environment relations as hierarchically structured power relations. Theoretical implications of social and ecological dominance orientations are discussed.