Social class differences produce social group preferences

Suzanne R. Horwitz, Kristin Shutts, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Some social groups are higher in socioeconomic status than others and the former tend to be favored over the latter. The present research investigated whether observing group differences in wealth alone can directly cause children to prefer wealthier groups. In Experiment 1, 4-5-year-old children developed a preference for a wealthy novel group over a less wealthy group. In Experiment 2, children did not develop preferences when groups differed by another kind of positive/negative attribute (i.e. living in brightly colored houses vs. drab houses), suggesting that wealth is a particularly meaningful group distinction. Lastly, in Experiment 3, the effect of favoring novel wealthy groups was moderated by group membership: Children assigned to a wealthy group showed ingroup favoritism, but those assigned to a less wealthy group did not. These experiments shed light on why children tend to be biased in favor of social groups that are higher in socioeconomic status. Some social groups are higher in socioeconomic status than others and the former tend to be favored over the latter. The present research investigated whether observing group differences in wealth alone can directly cause children to prefer wealthier groups. In Experiment 1, 4-5-year-old children developed a preference for a wealthy novel group over a less wealthy group. In Experiment 2, children did not develop preferences when groups differed by another kind of positive/negative attribute (i.e. living in brightly colored houses vs. drab houses), suggesting that wealth is a particularly meaningful group distinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-1002
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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