Social Class & Our Sense of Control

This paper analyzes the interaction between locus of control  and social status. Locus of control is a “term in psychology that refers to a person’s belief about what causes the good or bad results in his life, either in general or in a specific area such as health or academics.” (Via Wikipedia)

Abstract (Via Booth)

Lower social class is associated with diminished resources and perceived subordinate rank. Based on this analysis, we predicted that social class would be closely associated with a reduced sense of personal control, and that this association would explain why lower-class individuals favor contextual over dispositional explanations of social events. Across four studies, lower social class individuals, measured by subjective socioeconomic status (SES), endorsed contextual explanations of economic trends, broad social outcomes, and emotion. Across studies, the sense of control mediated the relationship between subjective SES and contextual explanations, and this association was independent of objective SES, ethnicity, political ideology, and self-serving biases. Finally, experimentally inducing a higher sense of control attenuated the tendency for lower subjective SES individuals to make more contextual explanations (Study 4). Implications for future research on social class as well as theoretical distinctions between objective and subjective SES are discussed. (144 words)

Conclusion (Via Booth)

The present research has shown that lower social class is associated with a contextualist orientation toward understanding personal and social outcomes, and that this explanatory tendency is linked to viewing the world as less controllable. In this way, social class differences lead to differences in the way individuals construe and interpret their social environments and the events that impact their lives.

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18. December 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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