Vertical and horizontal inequality are status and power differences: applications to stereotyping by competence and warmth

Susan T. Fiske, Xuechunzi Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Status (respect, prestige) and power (resource control) arguably form two kinds of inequality. Status differences appear culturally reasonable as vertical inequality—with a common rationale: meritocracy (deservingness). High-status individuals and groups are accorded competence. Status differences divide people by inequality, but so do differences in power (sharing resource control). Power-sharing (or not) can be cooperative, peer interdependence, tending toward equality, or competitive rivalry, negative interdependence, tending toward inequality. This kind of (in)equality—power-sharing (or not)—theoretically differs from vertical status differences. Orientation to power-sharing thus is horizontal (in)equality. One end creates competitive friction among the distrusted and dissimilar. At the other end, horizontal equality creates mutual cooperation of the warm, similar, and familiar. Distinguishing status and power differences broadens inequality's scope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-221
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Volume33
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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