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Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification$
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John T. Jost, Aaron C. Kay, and Hulda Thorisdottir

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.001.0001

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American Moral Exceptionalism

American Moral Exceptionalism

(p.27) CHAPTER 2 American Moral Exceptionalism
Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification

Eric Luis Uhlmann

T. Andrew Poehlman

John A. Bargh

Oxford University Press

The judgments and actions of contemporary Americans reflect the implicit influence of America’s Puritan-Protestant heritage. Americans valorize individual merit, a residue of the Protestant emphasis on a personal relationship with God and earthly rewards and punishments. The United States has remained deeply religious and traditional in the face of enormous prosperity, at least in part attributable to the founding influence of the Puritan-Protestants. Americans, but not members of comparison cultures, implicitly link work and divine salvation and display other judgmental biases consistent with implicit Puritanism. As predicted by theories of implicit social cognition, which hold that the influence of traditional cultural values is strongest at an implicit level, less religious and non-Protestant Americans are just as likely to display such effects as devout American Protestants.

Keywords:   implicit Puritanism, moral exceptionalism, Puritan-Protestants, work ethic

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