The Effects Of Social Dominance Orientation On Loneliness

The Effects Of Social Dominance Orientation On Loneliness

The Effects Of Social Dominance Orientation On Loneliness: A Case Study Of PSYCH 12 Students


Some people prefer dominant social systems whereas others prefer less dominant ones. While this is the case, some people tend to be lonely than others. To determine the way social dominance orientation affects the way people feel lonely, a sample of 109 students from the university studying PSYCH 12 were recruited randomly to participate in the study. A t test was utilized to evaluate the possible difference in SDO and loneliness levels between male and female participants. In addition, scatter plot was utilized to depict the possible difference whereas the correlation coefficient was utilized to detect the relationship between the participants’ height and age. The study did not establish any significant relationship between participants’ age and height. In addition, it did not establish any significant difference between the way male and female participants performed in relation to SDO and loneliness levels. However, it established a significant difference between the way participants performed in relation to SDO and loneliness level as a whole.   

The Effects of Social Dominance Orientation on Loneliness: A Case Study of PSYCH 12

The Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) scale determines the extent to which a person believes in inequality among social groups (Pratto et al., 1994). As a personality trait, it predicts the political and social attitudes of a person, and it determines the degree to which one prefers hierarchies within social domination. The people who score high in this scale tend to maintain high differences between people’s social status because they are self-driven and tough. On the other hand, the UCLA Loneliness Scale is utilized to detect variation in people’s loneliness levels. With 20-items, it was developed for the first time by the University of California, and it has an internal consistency of 0.96 indicating that it does not vary much from one person to the other (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980). Since its development, it has been utilized in different places and by different people to measure loneliness levels. When combined together, the two scales are able to determine the level of loneliness and at the same time evaluate social dominance orientation of a person or group of people.    

Throughout the study, it was hypothesized that people who scored high in Social Dominance Orientation scored low in UCLA Loneliness Scale. The assumption was that these people were dominant, seekers of power and tough; thus, they were not intimidated by anything. On the other hand, those who scored low in SDO felt intimidated; hence, they were lonely more often than not. As an emotional construct, loneliness was presumed to be influenced by both internal and external factors especially those related to dominance. As a result, it was presumed that lonely people would view the world as a threatening place, recall more negative social information and expect negative interactions (Watier & Dubois, 2016). For this reason, they would score low in SDO contrary to their counterparts who would view the world as a place of opportunities. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that there would be no significant difference in terms of loneliness level between the female and male participants who scored high or low in loneliness. The assumption was that the two groups of the people would be similar in terms of dominance thereby no difference would be expected between them.


A total of 109 students (31.2 percent males and 67.9 percent females) from PSYCH 12 participated in the study. Their age ranged between 18 and 24 years. The majority of them (33.9 percent) identified as Asians, 7.3 percent as Americans, 31.2 percent as Latin Americans, 11 percent as white and 11.9 percent as mixed races. All of them agreed to take part in the study on voluntary basis without expecting to get any form of compensation. Their demand characteristics and expectation effects were minimized by informing them that the purpose of the study was to evaluate their loneliness levels and SDO without necessarily interfering with their personal relationships and aspirations.

A t test was utilized to determine whether there was significant difference between the way male and female participants performed in relation to loneliness levels and SDO. In addition, the test was utilized to determine whether there was significant difference in terms of the way participants performed as a whole in relation to the two factors. The groups’ means and variances were the descriptive statistics that were utilized to depict the way the two groups performed in relation to SDO and loneliness levels. Furthermore, a scatter plot was utilized to depict the difference between the two factors whereas the correlation coefficient was utilized to determine the association between participants’ age and heights. The participants were recruited randomly from PSYCH 12 to participate in the study. The process of recruiting them entailed approaching them, introducing them to the study by explaining its purpose and benefits to them before asking them to participate in it on voluntary basis. The ones who agreed to participate in it on voluntary basis were issued with questionnaires to fill on their own and return it to researcher upon filling it.  


There was no significant difference between male and female participants in terms of level of loneliness at 5% significance level as Table 1 depicts. This was in relation to the fact that the p-value for a two-tailed test (0.809752674) was greater than 0.05.  

Table 1: A t test on participants’ loneliness levels    

t-Test: Two-Sample Assuming Equal Variances
Pooled Variance17.35092542
Hypothesized Mean Difference0
t Stat0.241341056
P(T<=t) one-tail0.404876337
t Critical one-tail1.659219312
P(T<=t) two-tail0.809752674
t Critical two-tail1.982383312 

There was no significant difference between male and female participants in terms of social dominance orientation at 5% significance level as Table 2 depicts. This was in relation to the fact that the p-value for a two-tailed test (0.072298719) was greater than 0.05.    

Table 2: A t test on participants’ SDO levels    

t-Test: Two-Sample Assuming Equal Variances
Pooled Variance46.33335532
Hypothesized Mean Difference0
t Stat-1.815170978
P(T<=t) one-tail0.036149359
t Critical one-tail1.659219312
P(T<=t) two-tail0.072298719
t Critical two-tail1.982383312 

Similarly, there was no significant correlation (-0.144) between the age and heights of the people who participated in the study at 5 percent significance level as Table 3 depicts.  

Table 3: The correlation between the participant’s height and age

HeightPearson Correlation1-.144
Sig. (2-tailed) .137
AgePearson Correlation-.1441
Sig. (2-tailed).137 

Overall, the study established that there was significant difference in terms of the way participants performed in relation to loneliness levels and SDO as Table 4 depicts. This was in relation to the fact that the p-value for a two-tailed test (3.75736E-33) was less than 0.05. The difference between the two factors is as Figure 1 attached at the appendix depicts.   

Table 4: A t test on the participants’ SDO and loneliness levels   

t-Test: Two-Sample Assuming Equal Variances
Pooled Variance32.25874958
Hypothesized Mean Difference0
t Stat-14.32158207
P(T<=t) one-tail1.87868E-33
t Critical one-tail1.651938652
P(T<=t) two-tail3.75736E-33
t Critical two-tail1.971007422 


The study sought to determine the effects of social dominance on the participants’ loneliness levels. It presumed that the group of people that would score high in social dominance would score low in loneliness levels. The assumption was that these people would be dominant, seekers of power and tough; therefore, they would not be intimidated by anything. Based on this assumption, it was presumed that there would be no significant difference between males and females. In line with the first assumption, it was established that there was significant difference in terms of the way participants scored in relation to loneliness and SDO. The difference was that in spite of the way they score in terms of loneliness, they scored high in SDO suggesting that majority of them were tough and dominant despite experiencing some levels of loneliness (Kteily, Ho, & Sidanius, 2012). This finding was somewhat in line with the initial presumption in the sense that a group of people did not show a significant difference between SDO and loneliness level performance whereas another group showed a significant difference between the two factors. The implication was that some people who scored low in loneliness scored high SDO as Figure 1 depicts. To some extent, this might be explained by the fact that people who scored high in SDO tended to be tough and dominant (Pratto et al., 1994). As a result, they might not have experienced high levels of loneliness like their counterparts who were less dominant and tough.

Furthermore, in line with the second presumption that there would be no significant difference in terms of the way male and female participants would perform in relation to loneliness levels and SDO, the study did not establish any significant difference. However, there was a slight difference between the ways both groups of people performed in relation to SDO suggesting that there was slight difference even though it was not significant. This finding was somewhat similar to those of Pratto et al (1994) that demonstrated that men tended to be more social dominance oriented than women; as such, their levels of loneliness may be slightly different from that of women. Different factors might be utilized to explain the slight difference between men and women, and some of those factors include gender difference, perception and emotional factors (Gratz & Roemer, 2004). With regard to gender, men are always considered to be slightly different from women in different ways despite the argument that they should be treated the same way. For instance, in terms of perception, women are likely to perceive themselves as lonely more than men due to the way they observe things (Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2010). As a result, since this was a perception-based study, then it is highly likely that female participants perceived themselves as lonely more than male participants perceived themselves. One explanation could be that at the time of the study, something influenced the way female participants perceived themselves; hence, there was a slight variation in their responses from what was expected.   

In spite of the above, even though the sample size of the male participants (34) was above thirty, it was relatively smaller than that of female participants (75). In fact, it was almost half that of female participants. Although this might not have influenced the study’s outcomes significantly, the fact remains that the sample size for male participants was significantly small. As a result, the small sample size might have affected the study’s outcomes in one way or the other. For this reason, it would be necessary for further studies with almost equal number of male and female participants to be conducted to determine whether the difference between the two groups of people would be significant. Besides the above, the overall sample size of 109 respondents was significantly small in comparison to the number of students in the university. In addition, only students taking PSYCH 12 were included in the study. Accordingly, the study’s findings should not be generalized to university as a whole.


Gratz, K., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structures, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of psychopathology and behavioral assessment, 26(1), 41-54.

Hawkley, L., & Cacioppo, J. (2010). Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Ann. behav. med., 40, 218–227.  

Kteily, N., Ho, A., & Sidanius, J. (2012). Hierarchy in the mind: The predictive power of social dominance orientation across social contexts and domains. Journal of experimental social psychology, 48, 543–549.

Pratto, F. et al. (1994). Social dominance orientation: A personality variable predicting social and political attitudes. Journal of personality and social psychology, 67(4), 741-763.

Russell, D., Peplau, L., & Cutrona, C. (1980). The revised UCLA loneliness scale: Concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. Journal of personality and social psychology, 39(3), 472-480.

Watier, N., & Dubois, M. (2016). The effects of a brief mindfulness exercise on executive attention and recognition memory. Mindfulness, 7, 745-753.


Figure 1: A scatter plot comparing the participants’ loneliness level and SDO score


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