Critical social justice attitudes

Two studies I conducted in 2022 on critical social justice attitudes were published as a single research article. The studies’ press release summarizes the main findings:

Critical social justice attitudes differ between men and women. Three out of five women responded to critical social justice statements at least somewhat positively. For men the figure was one out of seven.

In two survey studies conducted at University of Turku, covering a total of 5878 participants, a scale was developed to measure participants’ critical social justice (sometimes called “woke”) attitudes. The samples for the studies came from students and staff at the University of Turku (Study 1) and readers of Helsingin Sanomat newspaper (Study 2). The final scale consisted of seven statements covering current topics from cultural appropriation to whether we should talk more about people’s skin color.

In the study, men expressed being somewhat in disagreement with the statements on the scale. Women responded neutrally or cautiously positively to the same statements. The gender difference in scores was more than double, strongly indicating that the attitudes primarily exist among women in Finland: three out of five women responded positively to the scale’s statements, while the corresponding figure for men was one out of seven.

Gender differences recurred across all university disciplines, and for example, scale scores for male humanities students in were closer to Finns Party voters than female humanities students. Those most in agreement with the scale were Left Alliance and Green party voters, female teachers in education and humanities, and female students in social sciences.

The scale was compared with participants’ self-assessed “wokeness” and with their political views, such as positioning on left-right and liberal-conservative axes. The scale closely mirrored participants’ self-assessed “wokeness” and at the same time was sufficiently distinct from their other political opinions. The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology and was conducted by Oskari Lahtinen, a senior researcher at the flagship INVEST.

Published stydy:

News stories:

New York Post:


Helsingin Sanomat:

Picture: Women’s Center at UMBC

Yksi vastaus artikkeliin “Critical social justice attitudes”

  1. This is causing headlines in the UK right now, but of course correlation is not causality. Did you examine the possibility that anxious or depressed people with an external locus of control may be more inclined to scan their environment and look for outside causes of the way they feel? In other words, that wokeness is attractive to those who are already somewhat disturbed? Over this side of the North Sea it’s being interpreted that being woke makes you anxious, not the other way around. Tough to prove either way, of course.


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