Social Class Rank, Threat Vigilance, and Hostile Reactivity
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: n.d.
Sources ID: 22860
Zotero Collections: Contexts of Contemplation Project
Lower-class individuals, because of their lower rank in society, are theorized to be more vigilant to social threats relative to their high-ranking upper-class counterparts. This class-related vigilance to threat, the authors predicted, would shape the emotional content of social interactions in systematic ways. In Study 1, participants engaged in a teasing interaction with a close friend. Lower-class participants—measured in terms of social class rank in society and within the friendship—more accurately tracked the hostile emotions of their friend. As a result, lower-class individuals experienced more hostile emotion contagion relative to upper-class participants. In Study 2, lower-class participants manipulated to experience lower subjective socioeconomic rank showed more hostile reactivity to ambiguous social scenarios relative to upper-class participants and to lower-class participants experiencing elevated socioeconomic rank. The results suggest that class affects expectations, perception, and experience of hostile emotion, particularly in situations in which lower-class individuals perceive their subordinate rank.