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      The psychology of social class: How socioeconomic status impacts thought, feelings, and behaviour

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          Abstract

          Drawing on recent research on the psychology of social class, I argue that the material conditions in which people grow up and live have a lasting impact on their personal and social identities and that this influences both the way they think and feel about their social environment and key aspects of their social behaviour. Relative to middle‐class counterparts, lower/working‐class individuals are less likely to define themselves in terms of their socioeconomic status and are more likely to have interdependent self‐concepts; they are also more inclined to explain social events in situational terms, as a result of having a lower sense of personal control. Working‐class people score higher on measures of empathy and are more likely to help others in distress. The widely held view that working‐class individuals are more prejudiced towards immigrants and ethnic minorities is shown to be a function of economic threat, in that highly educated people also express prejudice towards these groups when the latter are described as highly educated and therefore pose an economic threat. The fact that middle‐class norms of independence prevail in universities and prestigious workplaces makes working‐class people less likely to apply for positions in such institutions, less likely to be selected and less likely to stay if selected. In other words, social class differences in identity, cognition, feelings, and behaviour make it less likely that working‐class individuals can benefit from educational and occupational opportunities to improve their material circumstances. This means that redistributive policies are needed to break the cycle of deprivation that limits opportunities and threatens social cohesion.

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          Most cited references60

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          Having less, giving more: the influence of social class on prosocial behavior.

          Lower social class (or socioeconomic status) is associated with fewer resources, greater exposure to threat, and a reduced sense of personal control. Given these life circumstances, one might expect lower class individuals to engage in less prosocial behavior, prioritizing self-interest over the welfare of others. The authors hypothesized, by contrast, that lower class individuals orient to the welfare of others as a means to adapt to their more hostile environments and that this orientation gives rise to greater prosocial behavior. Across 4 studies, lower class individuals proved to be more generous (Study 1), charitable (Study 2), trusting (Study 3), and helpful (Study 4) compared with their upper class counterparts. Mediator and moderator data showed that lower class individuals acted in a more prosocial fashion because of a greater commitment to egalitarian values and feelings of compassion. Implications for social class, prosocial behavior, and economic inequality are discussed.
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            Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?

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              Social class, solipsism, and contextualism: how the rich are different from the poor.

              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. Copyright 2012 APA, all rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                MansteadA@cardiff.ac.uk
                Journal
                Br J Soc Psychol
                Br J Soc Psychol
                10.1111/(ISSN)2044-8309
                BJSO
                The British Journal of Social Psychology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                0144-6665
                2044-8309
                28 February 2018
                April 2018
                : 57
                : 2 ( doiID: 10.1111/bjso.2018.57.issue-2 )
                : 267-291
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Cardiff University UK
                Author notes
                [*] [* ]Correspondence should be addressed to Antony Manstead, Cardiff University, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 70 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK (email: MansteadA@ 123456cardiff.ac.uk ).
                Article
                BJSO12251
                10.1111/bjso.12251
                5901394
                29492984
                f5bf00e8-52b6-4a51-abee-bc157fe317df
                © 2018 The Author. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Pages: 25, Words: 13871
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                Custom metadata
                2.0
                bjso12251
                April 2018
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:version=5.3.4 mode:remove_FC converted:16.04.2018

                social class,socioeconomic status,identity,self‐construal,personal control,empathy,prejudice,economic inequality

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