A 32-society investigation of the influence of perceived economic inequality on social class stereotyping

Porntida Tanjitpiyanond, Jolanda Jetten, Kim Peters, Ashwini Ashokkumar, Oumar Barry, Matthew Billet, Maja Becker, Robert W. Booth, Diego Castro, Juana Chinchilla, Giulio Costantini, Egon Dejonckheere, Girts Dimdins, Yasemin Erbas, Agustín Espinosa, Gillian Finchilescu, Ángel Gómez, Roberto González, Nobuhiko Goto, Aya HatanoLea Hartwich, Somboon Jarukasemthawee, Jaya Kumar Karunagharan, Lindsay M. Novak, Jinseok P. Kim, Michal Kohút, Yi Liu, Steve Loughnan, Ike E. Onyishi, Charity N. Onyishi, Micaela Varela, Iris S. Pattara-angkoon, Müjde Peker, Kullaya Pisitsungkagarn, Muhammad Rizwan, Eunkook M. Suh, William Swann, Eddie M.W. Tong, Rhiannon N. Turner, Niels Vanhasbroeck, Paul A.M. Van Lange, Christin Melanie Vauclair, Alexander Vinogradov, Grace Wacera, Zhechen Wang, Susilo Wibisono, Victoria Wai Lan Yeung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a growing body of work suggesting that social class stereotypes are amplified when people perceive higher levels of economic inequality—that is, the wealthy are perceived as more competent and assertive and the poor as more incompetent and unassertive. The present study tested this prediction in 32 societies and also examines the role of wealth-based categorization in explaining this relationship. We found that people who perceived higher economic inequality were indeed more likely to consider wealth as a meaningful basis for categorization. Unexpectedly, however, higher levels of perceived inequality were associated with perceiving the wealthy as less competent and assertive and the poor as more competent and assertive. Unpacking this further, exploratory analyses showed that the observed tendency to stereotype the wealthy negatively only emerged in societies with lower social mobility and democracy and higher corruption. This points to the importance of understanding how socio-structural features that co-occur with economic inequality may shape perceptions of the wealthy and the poor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • cross-culture
  • economic inequality
  • social class
  • stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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