Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Working class


There is currently widespread concern that access to, and success within, the British acting profession is increasingly dominated by those from privileged class origins. This article seeks to empirically interrogate this claim using data on actors from the Great British Class Survey (N = 404) and 47 qualitative interviews. First, survey data demonstrate that actors from working-class origins are significantly underrepresented within the profession. Second, they indicate that even when those from working-class origins do enter the profession they do not have access to the same economic, cultural and social capital as those from privileged backgrounds. Third, and most significantly, qualitative interviews reveal how these capitals shape the way actors can respond to shared occupational challenges. In particular we demonstrate the profound occupational advantages afforded to actors who can draw upon familial economic resources, legitimate embodied markers of class origin (such as Received Pronunciation) and a favourable typecasting.

Concepts: Sociology, Quantitative research, Five Capitals, Received Pronunciation, Acting, Capital, Working class


Does being from a higher social class lead a person to engage in more or less prosocial behavior? Psychological research has recently provided support for a negative effect of social class on prosocial behavior. However, research outside the field of psychology has mainly found evidence for positive or u-shaped relations. In the present research, we therefore thoroughly examined the effect of social class on prosocial behavior. Moreover, we analyzed whether this effect was moderated by the kind of observed prosocial behavior, the observed country, and the measure of social class. Across eight studies with large and representative international samples, we predominantly found positive effects of social class on prosociality: Higher class individuals were more likely to make a charitable donation and contribute a higher percentage of their family income to charity (32,090 ≥ N ≥ 3,957; Studies 1-3), were more likely to volunteer (37,136 ≥N ≥ 3,964; Studies 4-6), were more helpful (N = 3,902; Study 7), and were more trusting and trustworthy in an economic game when interacting with a stranger (N = 1,421; Study 8) than lower social class individuals. Although the effects of social class varied somewhat across the kinds of prosocial behavior, countries, and measures of social class, under no condition did we find the negative effect that would have been expected on the basis of previous results reported in the psychological literature. Possible explanations for this divergence and implications are discussed.

Concepts: Class consciousness, Relations of production, Household income in the United States, Working class, Social class, Psychology, Sociology


We theorize that people’s social class affects their appraisals of others' motivational relevance-the degree to which others are seen as potentially rewarding, threatening, or otherwise worth attending to. Supporting this account, three studies indicate that social classes differ in the amount of attention their members direct toward other human beings. In Study 1, wearable technology was used to film the visual fields of pedestrians on city streets; higher-class participants looked less at other people than did lower-class participants. In Studies 2a and 2b, participants' eye movements were tracked while they viewed street scenes; higher class was associated with reduced attention to people in the images. In Study 3, a change-detection procedure assessed the degree to which human faces spontaneously attract visual attention; faces proved less effective at drawing the attention of high-class than low-class participants, which implies that class affects spontaneous relevance appraisals. The measurement and conceptualization of social class are discussed.

Concepts: Social classes, Class consciousness, Working class, Sociology, Social class


Recent empirical research questions the validity of using Malthusian theory in preindustrial England. Using real wage and vital rate data for the years 1650-1881, I provide empirical estimates for a different region: Northern Italy. The empirical methodology is theoretically underpinned by a simple Malthusian model, in which population, real wages, and vital rates are determined endogenously. My findings strongly support the existence of a Malthusian economy wherein population growth decreased living standards, which in turn influenced vital rates. However, these results also demonstrate how the system is best characterized as one of weak homeostasis. Furthermore, there is no evidence of Boserupian effects given that increases in population failed to spur any sustained technological progress.

Concepts: Working class, Demographic economics, Demography, Scientific method, Malthusian growth model, Empiricism, World population, Population


Is higher social class associated with greater happiness? In a large nationally representative U.S. sample (N = 1,519), we examined the association between social class (household income) and self-reported tendencies to experience 7 distinct positive emotions that are core to happiness: amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride. Consistent with past research indicating that social class underlies differential patterns of attending to the self versus orienting to others, higher social class was associated with greater self-oriented feelings of contentment and pride, and with greater amusement. In contrast, lower social class was associated with more other-oriented feelings of compassion and love, and with greater awe. There were no class differences in enthusiasm. We discuss that individuals from different social class backgrounds may exhibit different patterns of emotional responding due to their distinct social concerns and priorities. Whereas self-oriented emotions may follow from, foster, and reinforce upper class individuals' desire for independence and self-sufficiency, greater other-oriented emotion may enable lower class individuals to form more interdependent bonds to cope with their more threatening environments. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Social classes, Middle class, Household income in the United States, Emotion, Sociology, Working class, Emotions, Social class


US medical spending growth slowed between 2004 and 2013. At the same time, many Americans faced rising copayments and deductibles, which may have particularly affected lower-income people. To explore whether the health spending slowdown affected all income groups equally, we divided the population into income quintiles. We then assessed trends in health expenditures by and on behalf of people in each quintile using twenty-two national surveys carried out between 1963 and 2012. Before the 1965 passage of legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid, the lowest income quintile had the lowest expenditures, despite their worse health compared to other income groups. By 1977 the unadjusted expenditures for the lowest quintile exceeded those for all other income groups. This pattern persisted until 2004. Thereafter, expenditures fell for the lowest quintile, while rising more than 10 percent for the middle three quintiles and close to 20 percent for the highest income quintile, which had the highest expenditures in 2012. The post-2004 divergence of expenditure trends for the wealthy, middle class, and poor occurred only among the nonelderly. We conclude that the new pattern of spending post-2004, with the wealthiest quintile having the highest expenditures for health care, suggests that a redistribution of care toward wealthier Americans accompanied the health spending slowdown.

Concepts: Poverty, Health care, Quintile, Wealth, Working class, Upper middle class, American middle class, Household income in the United States


Americans may be more narcissistic now than ever, but narcissism is not evenly distributed across social strata. Five studies demonstrated that higher social class is associated with increased entitlement and narcissism. Upper-class individuals reported greater psychological entitlement (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2) and narcissistic personality tendencies (Study 2), and they were more likely to behave in a narcissistic fashion by opting to look at themselves in a mirror (Study 3). Finally, inducing egalitarian values in upper-class participants decreased their narcissism to a level on par with their lower-class peers (Study 4). These findings offer novel evidence regarding the influence of social class on the self and highlight the importance of social stratification to understanding basic psychological processes.

Concepts: Narcissistic personality disorder, Max Weber, Social mobility, Working class, Narcissism, Social stratification, Social class, Sociology


We propose a simple agent-based model on a network to conceptualize the allocation of limited wealth among more abundant expectations at the interplay of power, frustration, and initiative. Concepts imported from the statistical physics of frustrated systems in and out of equilibrium allow us to compare subjective measures of frustration and satisfaction to collective measures of fairness in wealth distribution, such as the Lorenz curve and the Gini index. We find that a completely libertarian, law-of-the-jungle setting, where every agent can acquire wealth from or lose wealth to anybody else invariably leads to a complete polarization of the distribution of wealth vs. opportunity. This picture is however dramatically ameliorated when hard constraints are imposed over agents in the form of a limiting network of transactions. There, an out of equilibrium dynamics of the networks, based on a competition between power and frustration in the decision-making of agents, leads to network coevolution. The ratio of power and frustration controls different dynamical regimes separated by kinetic transitions and characterized by drastically different values of equality. It also leads, for proper values of social initiative, to the emergence of three self-organized social classes, lower, middle, and upper class. Their dynamics, which appears mostly controlled by the middle class, drives a cyclical regime of dramatic social changes.

Concepts: Distribution, Social class, Working class, Wealth condensation, Pareto distribution, Economic inequality, Lorenz curve, Distribution of wealth


Disability and poverty are believed to operate in a cycle, with each reinforcing the other. While agreement on the existence of a link is strong, robust empirical evidence substantiating and describing this potential association is lacking. Consequently, a systematic review was undertaken to explore the relationship between disability and economic poverty, with a focus on the situation in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Concepts: Income, Working class, Middle class


Social rank in human and nonhuman animals is signaled by a variety of behaviors and phenotypes. In this research, we examined whether a sartorial manipulation of social class would engender class-consistent behavior and physiology during dyadic interactions. Male participants donned clothing that signaled either upper-class (business-suit) or lower-class (sweatpants) rank prior to engaging in a modified negotiation task with another participant unaware of the clothing manipulation. Wearing upper-class, compared to lower-class, clothing induced dominance-measured in terms of negotiation profits and concessions, and testosterone levels-in participants. Upper-class clothing also elicited increased vigilance in perceivers of these symbols: Relative to perceiving lower-class symbols, perceiving upper-class symbols increased vagal withdrawal, reduced perceptions of social power, and catalyzed physiological contagion such that perceivers' sympathetic nervous system activation followed that of the upper-class target. Discussion focuses on the dyadic process of social class signaling within social interactions. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Relations of production, Social class, Class consciousness, Behavior, Working class, Sociology, Psychology