Belief systems, value priorities, and social dominance orientation as predictors of nonviolent orientations

Dhruvi Kakkad, Fordham University


This study examined the relationship between nonviolent orientations, belief systems functioning, value priorities, and social dominance orientation. The investigation sought to add to the sparse theoretical and empirical literature on the psychological study of nonviolence by investigating psychological dynamics that underlie nonviolent dispositions. Grounded by Kool's (1993) metatheoretical perspective of nonviolence, the study explored how proclivities towards nonviolence related to a developmental measure of conceptual functioning as articulated by Belief Systems Theory (BST) (Harvey, 1985, 1986), value priorities as elaborated by Values Theory (Schwartz, 1992, 1994), and an individual difference variable, social dominance orientation (SDO), as presented by Social Dominance Theory (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994). The participants consisted of 173 adults who were college graduates. Each participant completed the Nonviolence Test, the “This-I-Believe” Test, the Values Survey, the Social Dominance Orientation Scale, and a demographic data sheet. Four of the hypotheses tested the relationship between nonviolence, stages of belief system functioning, specific value priorities, and social dominance orientation by calculating Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients. The fifth hypothesis examined how well belief systems functioning, value priorities, and social dominance orientation collectively predicted for proclivities towards nonviolence. Additionally, a hierarchical regression analysis was computed to determine if social dominance orientation and stages of belief system functioning significantly accounted for additional variance, beyond the effects of value priorities, in predicting proclivities towards nonviolence. Further regression analyses were conducted to elucidate differences in nonviolence scores among representatives of the various stages of conceptual functioning. Finally, patterns of responses were examined for each belief system group. Results of the study indicated that proclivities towards nonviolence related differently to a variety of values and attitudes, and are mediated by stage of conceptual functioning. Specifically, nonviolence related negatively with the lowest stage of conceptual functioning, the value types of power and hedonism, and SDO. Nonviolence correlated positively with the highest stage of conceptual functioning, and the value types of universalism and benevolence. Furthermore, significant differences in the patterns of nonviolent orientations were found among the stages of belief system functioning, suggesting that nonviolence cannot be simplistically understood as a monolithic construct. The findings of this study have implications for psychologists, educators, human-relations trainers, and other professionals interested in developing and implementing effective conflict resolution and peacemaking programs.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Kakkad, Dhruvi, "Belief systems, value priorities, and social dominance orientation as predictors of nonviolent orientations" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3166573.