What Is Social Orientation?

Andreas Lehner/CC-BY 2.0

Social orientation refers to the theory that explains why a person has particular behaviors, relationships and adaptations with other people and/or society in general. Also referred to as social dominance orientation in some disciplines, professionals use this theory to predict behaviors, particularly with inter-group attitudes and behaviors. In law, social orientation refers to taking into account the well-being of society in addition to customer satisfaction.

In many cases, theorists use this philosophy to explain the support an individual gives to the dominance of another group based on demographic factors such as age, gender, race and religion. This means social dominance orientation measures how much a person shows a preference for inequality when that inequality works in his group’s favor. In other words, those people who hold this preference believe in a system in which one or a small number of social groups dominate one or more social groups as the correct social order.

In some cases, researchers have the ability to use social orientation theory in order to predict negative behaviors in some groups. The theory aims to help researchers understand the thought processes, particularly negative ones, with various social and demographic groups involved in different types of group interactions.