Economic and social distance: Perceived income inequality negatively predicts an interdependent self-construal

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that economic inequality influences how people are related with others. In this article, we suggest that perceived economic inequality influences self-construal. Specifically, we propose that higher economic inequality leads to an independent self-construal, whereas lower economic inequality leads to an interdependent self-construal. Correlational data from Studies 1a and 1b revealed that people who perceive lower levels of economic inequality tend to show higher levels of interdependent self-construal, even after controlling for social class. In Study 2, using an experimental design, we found that perceived high economic inequality leads to a more independent and less interdependent self-construal compared to the low economic inequality condition. These results expand the literature bridging the gap between a macro-social factor, such as economic inequality, and a micro-social factor, such as self-construal.

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