Admired Rich or Resented Rich? How Two Cultures Vary in Envy

Sherry Jueyu Wu, Xuechunzi Bai, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Rich people inhabit a distinct social category that may elicit universal images or perhaps different perceptions in different cultures. Whereas inequality research has mostly focused on lower socioeconomic classes, the current research investigates cultural variations of prejudices about rich groups, toward understanding societal dynamics. Three studies investigate stereotype content and evaluations of rich people in China and the United States, cultures that might be expected to differ. Consistent with U.S. data from the stereotype content model, Study 1 demonstrates mainland Chinese likewise view the rich in general ambivalently as competent but cold. Examining a more specific level, Study 2 identifies both distinctive and overlapping rich subgroups across the two cultures, but both reporting mixed stereotype content. Study 3 tests whether clearer cultural contrasts might occur in implicit (vs. explicit) stereotypes toward rich people: Both U.S. and Chinese respondents, however, expressed positive implicit stereotypes toward the rich compared with middle class, in contrast with their self-reported explicitly ambivalent (or, rarely, negative) wealth stereotypes. This research is the first to examine stereotype content about rich people on the subgroup level, and both implicit and explicit levels, offering theory-based social structure predictors of this culturally shared but somewhat variable stereotype content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1143
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


  • culture
  • implicit evaluations
  • rich people
  • social class
  • stereotype content model


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