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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman

Second Advisor

Brian Lickel

Third Advisor

Aline Sayer

Fourth Advisor

Sheila Mammen

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Economic Policy | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Income Distribution | Inequality and Stratification | Multicultural Psychology | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Political Economy | Politics and Social Change | Public Economics | Quantitative Psychology | Social Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Social Statistics | Social Welfare

Abstract

What predicts support for the redistribution of resources to improve socioeconomic inequality? Social class, or the subjective perception of one’s resources and position in relation to others in a larger society, was examined as one relevant characteristic. Across four experiments, social class as subjective social status was manipulated (two) and measured (all four), and found to have a significant negative effect on support for the moral values of group-based equality (social justice) but not on individual deservingness (fairness) separate from political identity and other demographic characteristics. This effect was seen on stated principles but particularly relevant in approval ratings of conflict scenarios in which social justice is violated in favor of fairness such as in instances counter to Affirmative Action policies. Using an abstract/higher construal level or “big picture” style of thinking (measured in all four studies and manipulated in two studies) independently predicted objections to the violations of social justice but not fairness in such scenarios. Socioeconomic inequality has undeniably poor consequences for a society and understanding the psychological perspectives of those along the social class continuum, particularly those in power towards the top, may be a step towards alleviating such inequality.

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