The David and Goliath Principle: Cultural, Ideological, and Attitudinal Underpinnings of the Normative Protection of Low-Status Groups From Criticism

Carla H. Jeffries, Matthew J. Hornsey, Robbie M. Sutton, Karen M. Douglas, Paul G. Bain

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies documented the "David and Goliath" rule-the tendency for people to perceive criticism of "David" groups (groups with low power and status) as less normatively permissible than criticism of "Goliath" groups (groups with high power and status). The authors confirmed the existence of the David and Goliath rule across Western and Chinese cultures (Study 1). However, the rule was endorsed more strongly in Western than in Chinese cultures, an effect mediated by cultural differences in power distance. Study 2 identified the psychological underpinnings of this rule in an Australian sample. Lower social dominance orientation (SDO) was associated with greater endorsement of the rule, an effect mediated through the differential attribution of stereotypes. Specifically, those low in SDO were more likely to attribute traits of warmth and incompetence to David versus Goliath groups, a pattern of stereotypes that was related to the protection of David groups from criticism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1065
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
Early online date26 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2012


  • criticism
  • culture
  • power distance
  • social dominance ideology
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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