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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses how differences in social class affect a variety of psychological processes and outcomes. In particular, it discusses how relatively higher class individuals are more likely to focus on the self—that is, emphasizing personal goals, feelings, and interests—compared to working-class individuals, who pay greater attention to the social context and their relationships with close others. In support of this claim, it discusses evidence of social class differences in values, neural processes, and higher level reasoning. It also explores the dynamic nature of the social class construct, looking at the difficulties people encounter when shifting to a relatively higher class and the historical trends that suggest global shifts in social class structure within societies. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of understanding social class when looking at various psychological outcomes. At the same time, they challenge researchers to consider the complexity of social class when studying its effects.

Keywords: social class, culture, cognition, cultural change, individualism, collectivism

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