The Effect of Social Class on Agency and Communion: Reconciling Identity-Based and Rank-Based Perspectives

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


  • Anna Lisa Aydin
  • Johannes Ullrich
  • Birte Siem
  • Kenneth D. Locke
  • Nurit Shnabel

How does social class affect people’s goals in social interactions? A rank-based perspective suggests actors from higher social classes (compared to lower social classes) have more agentic and less communal goals when interacting with same class or unspecified others. Focusing on targets’ social class, an identity-based perspective suggests the reverse: Actors should more strongly endorse communal (agentic) goals toward illegitimately lower class (higher class) compared to illegitimately higher class (lower class) targets, regardless of actors’ own social class. Three preregistered experiments (N = 2,023) manipulated actor’s social class and the nature of the target (illegitimately higher/lower class, same class, unspecified) and measured participants’ goals in imagined interactions using the Circumplex Scales of Intergroup Goals. The identity-based perspective received strong support: Across studies, actors expressed stronger agentic (communal) goals toward higher class (lower class) targets. The rank-based perspective received limited support, with relatively low-class (vs. relatively high-class) actors expressing stronger communal goals toward same-class targets.

ZeitschriftSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Seiten (von - bis)735-745
Anzahl der Seiten11
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.08.2019
Extern publiziertJa