What Are Lay Theories of Social Class?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Numerous studies have documented the effects of social class on psychological and behavioral variables. However, lay beliefs about how social class affects these dimensions have not been systematically tested. Studies 1 and 2 assessed lay beliefs about the association between social class and 8 variables (including psychological and behavioral tendencies and cognitive ability). Study 3 assessed lay beliefs about the Big five personality traits and social class, and study 4 reframed the 8 variables from study 1 in opposite terms and yielded similar results. Study 5 contained the variables framed as in both studies 1 and 4, and replicated those results suggesting that framing effects were not responsible for the effects observed. Interestingly, for the most part lay beliefs about social class did not differ as a function of participants' own social class. In general people held relatively accurate and consistent stereotypes about the relationship between social class and well-being, health, intelligence, and neuroticism. In contrast lay beliefs regarding social class and reasoning styles, as well as relational, social, and emotional tendencies were less consistent and coherent. This work suggests that on the whole people's beliefs about social class are not particularly accurate, and further that in some domains there are contradictory stereotypes about the consequences of social class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere70589
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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