Social class is shaped by an individual's material resources as well as perceptions
of rank vis-à-vis others in society, and in this article, we examine how class influences
behavior. Diminished resources and lower rank create contexts that constrain social
outcomes for lower-class individuals and enhance contextualist tendencies--that is,
a focus on external, uncontrollable social forces and other individuals who influence
one's life outcomes. In contrast, abundant resources and elevated rank create contexts
that enhance the personal freedoms of upper-class individuals and give rise to solipsistic
social cognitive tendencies--that is, an individualistic focus on one's own internal
states, goals, motivations, and emotions. Guided by this framework, we detail 9 hypotheses
and relevant empirical evidence concerning how class-based contextualist and solipsistic
tendencies shape the self, perceptions of the social environment, and relationships
to other individuals. Novel predictions and implications for research in other socio-political
contexts are considered.
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