Social Class Predicts Emotion Perception and Perspective-Taking Performance in Adults

Pia Dietze, Eric D. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

“Theory of Mind” (ToM; people’s ability to infer and use information about others’ mental states) varies across cultures. In four studies (N = 881), including two preregistered replications, we show that social class predicts performance on ToM tasks. In Studies 1A and 1B, we provide new evidence for a relationship between social class and emotion perception: Higher-class individuals performed more poorly than their lower-class counterparts on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, which has participants infer the emotional states of targets from images of their eyes. In Studies 2A and 2B, we provide the first evidence that social class predicts visual perspective taking: Higher-class individuals made more errors than lower-class individuals in the Director Task, which requires participants to assume the visual perspective of another person. Potential mechanisms linking social class to performance in different ToM domains, as well as implications for deficiency-centered perspectives on low social class, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Director Task
  • Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test
  • culture
  • social class
  • theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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