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An Implicit Stereotype of the Rich and Its Relation to Psychological Connectedness

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This study investigates people's implicit stereotype of the social group of the rich in terms of competence and warmth. We further examine the stereotype's relationship with temporal selves. Implicit Association Tests were used as measures of implicit social perception in a social comparison context. We also rated the degree of psychological connectedness between current and possible future selves across time. Our results demonstrate that the rich are implicitly perceived as having high levels of competence and low levels of warmth compared to the average person, and that a close psychological connectedness mitigates the negative perception of the rich. The implications and limitations of these findings are also discussed.
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An Implicit Stereotype of the Rich and
Its Relation to Psychological
Connectedness
Chang-Jiang Liu,1,2 Yue Zhang,1and Fang Hao1
1School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China
2Research Institute of Moral Education, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China
This study investigates people’s implicit stereotype of the social group of the rich in terms of com-
petence and warmth. We further examine the stereotype’s relationship with temporal selves. Implicit
Association Tests were used as measures of implicit social perception in a social comparison context.
We also rated the degree of psychological connectedness between current and possible future selves
across time. Our results demonstrate that the rich are implicitly perceived as having high levels of com-
petence and low levels of warmth compared to the average person, and that a close psychological
connectedness mitigates the negative perception of the rich. The implications and limitations of these
findings are also discussed.
Keywords: stereotype of the rich, Implicit Association Test, psychological connectedness, social
perception
Social psychological research has previously demonstrated
that social groups are stereotyped according to the char-
acteristics of their social structure. Evidence has widely
shown that people hold generally negative stereotypes
about members of groups who are relatively disadvan-
taged, such as people with disabilities and those with
low social status (Crocker & Major, 1989). However, peo-
ple also possess ambivalent stereotypes about advantaged
groups, such as the rich and the powerful (Fiske, Cuddy,
Glick, & Xu, 2002). Moreover, previous rese arch has shown
that the explicit evaluations of social groups continue
to bias social perceptions at an implicit level (Kunda &
Spencer, 2003). However, although implicit and explicit
psychological processes correlate well on occasion, the two
types of processes are often dissociated (Rudman, 2004).
Many social group attributes are automatically linked
to the self. A social structure that is stereotypical of the
social groups within that structure is characterised by
status and power (Blader & Chen, 2012). People will
spontaneously seek a higher position within a social
structure in order to satisfy their innate motivation of the
desire for status, which in turn further affects their overall
feelings of self-worth (Anderson, Hildreth, & Howland,
2015). In addition, various social groups provide self-
defining goals to help facilitate the achievement of self
over time (Gollwitzer & Kirchhof, 1998). Since goals are
an individual’s ideal and aspired conception of them-
selves, individuals are more likely to expect themselves to
Address for correspondence: Chang-Jiang Liu, School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, 122 Ninghai Road, Gulou District, Nanjing, 210097,
China. Email: chjliu@njnu.edu.cn.
become, for example, advantaged rather than disadvan-
taged. Therefore, one strategy that contributes favourably
to the advantaged groups could be for members of the
group to associate their current selves with their possible
but desirable future selves. In this current study, taking the
rich as a relatively advantaged group, we will demonstrate
that the self in terms of temporal selves serves as a
mechanism through which a general positive stereotype
pertaining to the advantaged groups is implicitly formed.
Social Perception of the Social Group of the Rich
In general, people perceive the rich to possess meritorious
qualities (Skafte, 1989). Also, people’s feelings are gener-
ally favourable toward the rich (Shutts, Brey, Dornbusch,
Slywotzky, & Olson, 2016). Moreover, a positive percep-
tion of features or exemplars of the rich automatically de-
velops into a ‘global’ impression. In this regard, the social
group of the rich may be stereotyped as a desirable so-
cial category (Smith, DiTomaso, Farris, & Cordero, 2001).
More importantly, however, what has been demonstrated
to date is that such a positive impression of ordinary peo-
ple (regarding the rich) is based mainly on the features of
the social success and personal development of exemplars.
Both of these features are seen to define social competence
(Christopher & Jones, 2004; Horwitz, Shutts, & Olson,
2014; Newheiser, Dunham, Merrill, Hoosain, & Olson,
2014). In this manner, the rich are generally perceived as
being similar to each other in terms of social competence.
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Chang-Jiang Liu, Yue Zhang, and Fang Hao
Previous research into stereotype content, however,
has indicated that social cognition of the rich can differ in
terms of social connections (Christopher & Jones, 2004;
Hogg et al., 2004). In existing social perception literature,
social competence and connections are viewed as being
the core and universal components of interpersonal
and intergroup perceptions (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick,
2008; Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007). Theoretically, this
differentiation is captured in the so-called ‘Big Two’ of
(1) competence (agency) and (2) warmth (morality/
communion; see Abele & Wojciszke, 2013). The compe-
tence dimension refers to traits that are related to personal
goal attainment, as well as the growth of individual traits,
including intelligence, skill, creativity, and efficacy. By
contrast, the warmth dimension is comprised of traits
that are related to the formation and maintenance of
social connections. These traits include friendliness,
helpfulness, sincerity, trustworthiness, and morality
(Abele & Wojciszke, 2007; Fiske et al., 2002).
In the Big Two framework, the rich (which may include
people with high incomes, the upper-class, and business
people) are generally perceived as fitting into the cate-
gory of high competence and low warmth (Fiske, 2012).
On the one hand, people sensibly attach competence to
those holding prestigious jobs and to those who are eco-
nomically successful. On the other hand, the perception
of low warmth may stem from the reality that the richer
groups are targets for innumerable negative projections
and derogatory labels. Consequently, the rich are per-
ceived as being more selfish, cocky, and hypocritical. They
are also seen as being less considerate of others than less
affluent people are seen to be (Christopher & Schlenker,
2000; Johannesen-Schmidt & Eagly, 2002).
The above mixed or ambivalent perceptions might
especially be true in the context of social comparison.
People think of others in terms of prototypes (Anderson
& Sedikides, 1991). These prototypes are constructed
as fuzzy sets of interrelated traits. Previous research has
indicated that prototypes vary across situations as a
function of the social comparison frame (Hogg et al.,
2004). With changes in prototypes, the feelings toward
and perceptions of the rich also vary. In addition, it has
been previously demonstrated that ordinary people tend
to treat the rich social group as an outgroup (Tajfel &
Turner, 1979; for a review, see Hewstone, Rubin, & Willis,
2002). The result is ingroup favouritism and outgroup
derogation. Thus, in reality, a negative representation
of the rich lacking warmth, as opposed to an overall
favouritism for the societal stereotyped groups, would be
formed and extended to the outgroup.
Psychological Connectedness of Temporal Selves
According to Parfit (1971), the self is a collection of
one’s distinct identities that psychologically connect with
one another over time. In general, people tend to view
their possible future selves as favourable and desirable.
Therefore, people tend to prefer what they perceive to be
their future selves, compared to their backward past selves.
For instance, people perceive their future selves as being
more attractive and positive. People also see themselves
attending more to their future selves than to their current
selves (Haddock, 2006; Stephan, Sedikides, Heller, &
Shidlovski, 2015; Van Boven & Caruso, 2015). These
people often form an expectation that they are living
their lives on a continuous, upward trajectory (Busseri,
Choma, & Sadava, 2009; Loewenstein & Prelec, 1993).
Despite being seen as being favourable and desirable,
future selves are, at least to some extent, viewed and
treated like other people (Ersner-Hershfield, Wimmer,
& Knutson, 2009; Pronin, 2008). Because an individual’s
continuity of memories, interests, and other characteris-
tics diminish, the degree of psychological connectedness
between the present and future selves generally tends to de-
crease over time (Frederick, 2003). Moreover, future selves
incorporate broader and more superordinate identities
than do present selves (Wakslak, Nussbaum, Liberman, &
Trope, 2008).Insummary,futureselveswillfrequentlybe
treated as ‘others’ or outgroups. Additionally, people may
not identify strongly with a more temporally distant future
self (Wilson, Buehler, Lawford, Schmidt, & Yong, 2012).
However, people also strive to improve themselves over
time as they attempt to approach their desired and ideal
future selves (Taylor, Neter, & Wayment, 1995). The moti-
vation behind this active self-improvement might depend
on the individual’s strength of psychological connected-
ness with their future selves, because the self has the ability
to generate a feeling of temporal connectedness that inte-
grates the present with the future (Kuhl, Quirin, & Koole,
2015). A growing body of research has indicated that the
perceived connectedness between the current and future
selves is closely associated with how people think and
behave in social interactions. For instance, when people
are prompted to focus on their future selves, they are more
likely to behave in ethically responsible ways (Hershfield,
Cohen, & Thompson, 2012). Efforts to increase the degree
of connectedness to the future selves tend to lead to more
farsighted and patient behaviour (Bartels & Rips, 2010;
Ersner-Hershfield, Garton, Ballard, Samanez-Larkin,
& Knutson, 2009). Evidence on self-other overlap also
suggests that the inclusion of the other in the self has pos-
itive effects on social relationships. These positive effects
include less stereotyping (Galinsky, Ku, & Wang, 2005)
and greater celebration of others’ successes (Gardner,
Gabriel, & Hochschild, 2002). Therefore, identifying ways
to increase the degree of connectedness between the cur-
rent self and future selves (and thus the desirable others)
may lead to more positive perceptions of and treatment
of others.
Current Study
One aim of our current study was to demonstrate a mixed
implicit stereotype of the rich. It has been suggested that
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Implicit Stereotype of the Rich
self-report measures of social perception are biased, due to
a limited insight into one’sown motivational and cognitive
processes and by other biases, such as social desirability
(Fazio & Olson, 2003). Conversely, implicit measures can
assess automatic evaluations without a person’s knowl-
edge of what is being assessed (Hahn, Judd, Hirsh, & Blair,
2014). Implicit measures are, therefore, verified as more
objective means of measuring social perception.
In this study, Implicit Association Tests (IATs; Green-
wald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998)wereconductedto
assess the implicit effects toward the rich. In the IATs,
respondents were asked to categorise stimuli into one of
four superordinate categories, representing two concept
dimensions. The first dimension is social groups: the
rich versus the average person. The second dimension is
preferences: positive versus negative. In this regard, the
IAT serves as a comparative measure of implicit effects
that assesses the evaluative associations of one group
relative to another. The coexistence of two opposing
groups thus sets a social comparison situation where an
individual’s social connections become salient.
Evidence has shown that people exhibit an implicit
favourability toward the rich, even though they explicitly
resent the rich and powerful, even to the point of taking
revenge against them (Zhou & Wang, 2007). However,
research into stereotype content suggests that a mixed im-
plicit stereotype may exist. More specifically, the perceived
discrepancy of perception between the real group and its
desirable prototypes may lie in the warmth component
rather than the competence component. In contrast to
an overall favorable impression and consistent with so-
cial perceptions of the Big Two framework, the following
hypotheses are proposed:
H1a: Exemplars of the rich will be associated more
quickly and easily with the high than the low competence
component.
H1b: Exemplars of the rich will be associated more
quickly and easily with the low than the high warmth
component.
Another aim of the current study was to investigate the
relationships of the implicit perception of the rich with the
psychological connectedness between different temporal
selves. According to social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner,
1979), the disadvantaged strive to achieve a positive social
identity. They do this, for example, by leaving or dissoci-
ating themselves from the ingroup. According to the self-
completion theory (Gollwitzer & Kirchhof, 1998), once
people have set themselves certain identity goals, they will,
over a long period of time, respond to failure experiences,
shortcomings or barriers with intensified efforts to reach
their goals. Since positive perceptions of the rich tend to
motivate people to approach their desired future selves,
the average person has an inner motivation to accumulate
possessions and wealth and thus become a member of the
rich group. In this way, individuals may share a common
identity with the rich. They may even see themselves
as having qualified to be members of the rich group.
Therefore, people’s representations of the rich may de-
note a prospective form of their future selves. It is this
prospective form that may further guide their current
behaviours toward wealth accumulation. For instance,
imagining a future state of being wealthy could lead in-
dividuals to take high risks with their personal outcomes
(Greenberg, 2013).
We hereby propose that an implicit positive stereotype
of the rich will be achieved, or strengthened, by increasing
the psychological connectedness between the current self
and the temporally distant future self (i.e., the identity of
the advantaged). That is, an increase in psychological con-
nectedness between the current self and the desirable fu-
ture self is predicted to mitigate the low warmth stereotype
of the rich and to elevate the high competence stereotype
of the rich. We therefore hypothesise that:
H2a: Stronger psychological connectedness will be posi-
tively related to a higher level of the current implicit per-
ception of the high competence of the rich.
H2b: Stronger psychological connectedness will be neg-
atively related to a higher level of the current implicit
perception of the low warmth of the rich.
Methods
Participants and Design
A total of 124 undergraduate students were recruited
from the campus of a large public university. All partici-
pants were right-handed and had normal or corrected-to-
normal vision. Data from 15 participants were discarded
because of excessive errors in the implicit measures (in
excess of 20% of the trials). Ultimately, the valid data con-
sisted of those from 34 males and 75 females, whose ages
ranged from 18 to 23, with an average of 20.35 (SD = 1.44).
Materials
IATs. The main tasks performed in this study were two
IATs; specifically, warmth and competence IATs. First, the
target and attribute categories were identified, along with
the corresponding stimuli used in the IATs. In general,
both IATs had two target category labels, ‘the rich’ versus
‘the average person. Both IATs also had two attribute cat-
egory labels, ‘negative’ versus ‘positive’. The target stimuli
were nouns categorised as the rich or the average person,
while the attribute stimuli were adjectives that represented
warmth or competence.
Target category stimuli were selected through the fol-
lowing procedures: First, the authors gathered to brain-
storm words that represented the rich and the average peo-
ple in society. A total of 20 nouns were chosen to categorise
the rich person, and 15 nouns were chosen to categorise
the average person. Second, six graduate students were
asked to rank the top 10 words for each category during a
graduate seminar. Finally, based on the rankings, the eight
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Chang-Jiang Liu, Yue Zhang, and Fang Hao
most frequently occurring words from each category were
selected as experimental stimuli (see Appendix).
Attribute category stimuli were obtained through a
similar three-step procedure, as follows: First, the stimuli
validated in previous research (Abele, Uchronski, Suitner,
& Wojciszke, 2008;Bruckm¨
uller & Abele, 2013; Fiske et al.,
2007) were collected. This procedure generated a total of
109 adjectives, including 24 words representing positive
warmth, 35 for negative warmth, 29 for positive compe-
tence, and 21 for negative competence. Subsequently, the
words were translated into Chinese. Second, the six grad-
uate students were asked to rank the top 15 words in their
respective categories during the same seminar at which
they ranked the target category stimuli. Finally, based on
the ranks, the eight most frequently occurring words in
each of the four categories were included as experimental
stimuli (see Appendix).
Following the recommendation made by Greenwald,
Nosek, and Banaji (2003), each IAT was administered in
seven blocks. Three (specifically, the first two and the fifth)
were practice blocks (20 trials each) that were used to
acquaint participants with the categorisation rules. The
remaining blocks were the critical test blocks. For both
of the IATs, the third and fourth blocks (which included
20 and 40 trials respectively) were compatible tasks. Com-
patibility in the IATs refers to the positive implicit stereo-
type of competence and the negative implicit stereotype of
warmth (with regard to the rich). Therefore, the partici-
pants in the warmth IAT were asked to press the left-hand
response key ‘E’ if the stimulus was either ‘the rich’ or
‘negative warm word’ and the right-hand response key ‘I’
if the stimulus was ‘the average person’ or ‘positive warm
words’.
The sixth and seventh blocks (which included 20 and
40 trials, respectively) were incompatible tasks. Incom-
patibility in the IATs corresponded to a negative implicit
stereotype of competence and a positive implicit stereo-
type of warmth toward the rich. Therefore, the pairings
in these blocks were reversed, whereby the stimuli related
to ‘the rich’ and ‘positive warm words’ shared a single
response key ‘E’, while the stimuli related to ‘the average
person’ and ‘negative warm words’ shared the other single
response key ‘I’.
The competence IAT was similar to the warmth IAT,
except that the labels of ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ in the latter
were replaced with ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, respectively,
in the former. Moreover, the attribute stimuli of ‘warmth’
words were replaced by those of ‘competence’ words.
Prior to each IAT block, instructions regarding the
sorting task operations and the appropriate key responses
were presented on the screen. During each trial, the stim-
uli appeared in the centre of the screen, while the four
category reminder labels were appropriately positioned
on the right and left at the top of the screen. The partic-
ipants responded to the request to categorise stimuli to
the left and right groups quickly and with minimal er-
rors. The response times and error rates of each test trial
were recorded automatically. Each incorrect response was
identified by a red X centred below the stimulus for 200
ms. Each incorrect response was then corrected before the
next stimulus was presented.
Measure of Psychological Connectedness
Following the example of Frederick’s (2003)operationali-
sation, the degree of psychological connectedness between
the current and desirable future selves across time was as-
sessed, based on the degree of similarity between the self
and the target of the rich. For comparison purposes, psy-
chological connectedness between the current and another
type of possible future selves was also assessed, based on
the degree of similarity between the self and the target of
the average person. A total of 12 items (6 for each target
group) were included. The items for each target group dif-
fered across six different time periods. Those time periods
included 0 (meaning current time), 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40
years. Participants were asked to rate their similarity with
the target group on a scale ranging from 0 (representing no
similarity) to 100 (indicating complete similarity). Sam-
ple items included ‘How similar are you to the rich people
now?’ and ‘How similar will you be to the average person
30 years from now?’ Participants were initially required
to consider characteristics such as personality, tempera-
ment, likes and dislikes, beliefs, values, ambitions, goals,
and ideals.
Procedures
Upon arriving at the lab, the participants were seated be-
fore a computer monitor on which the stimuli were pre-
sented. The participants were randomly assigned to either
a competence IAT or a warmth IAT. Thereafter, they were
instructed to complete their respective tests. To eliminate
any possible sequence and association effects, half of the
participants were first given the warmth IAT, followed by
the competence IAT. That sequence was reversed for the
other half of the participants. In addition, odd-numbered
participants were presented with one stage of the IAT and
then the other. That orderwas reversed for even-numbered
participants.
Each IAT lasted approximately 10 minutes. Thereafter,
the participants reported their similarities to the rich and
to the average person via a 100-point sliding scale. Then
their demographic characteristics were collected. Finally,
participants were thanked and debriefed. Each of them
was paid 5 yuan (approximately US$0.80) for their partic-
ipation.
Results
Implicit Stereotype of the Rich
The IAT effects for implicit stereotypes pertaining to the
rich were conventionally computed separately (for the
competence and warmth IATs). This was done by sub-
tracting the mean latency for the compatible task from
the mean latency for the incompatible task. Among the
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Implicit Stereotype of the Rich
Ta b l e 1
Average Response Times and D Scores of the Two IATs
Response times
Dimension Compatible task Incompatible task
D
scores
Competence 880.99 (239.25) 1088.20 (286.31) 0.45 (0.45)
Warmth 942.77 (228.67) 995.98 (262.19) 0.10 (0.41)
Note:
SD
s in parentheses.
more common methods of computing this difference, the
Dscores were selected, because the D-scoring algorithm
can powerfully assess the relationships between implicit
effects and other variables of interest (Greenwald et al.,
2003). In this method, high Dscores indicated an implicit
perception of high competence and low warmth toward
the rich. Table 1 presents the average response times and
Dscores in the compatible and incompatible tasks.
The results of the pairwise ttests (for the competence
IAT) showed that the response time in the compatible task
was much shorter than the response time in the incom-
patible task, t(53) = 6.42, p<.001. Thus, the response
time was accelerated when the ‘rich’ words were paired
with the positive ‘competence’ words relative to negative
ones. A one-sample ttest showed that the mean Dscore
of 0.45 was significantly greater than zero, t(53) = 7.40,
p<.001. In addition, 85.2% of the participants had a
Dscore of greater than zero. Collectively, these findings
suggest a significant implicit effect of high competence.
Thus, H1a is fully supported.
The response time in the incompatible task for the
warmth IAT was shorter than the response time in the
compatible task, t(54) = 1.96, p= .056. Thus, the re-
sponse time was accelerated when the ‘rich’ words were
paired with negative ‘warmth’ words, relative to positive
ones. A one-sample ttest on the mean Dscore of 0.10
indicated that participants from the warmth group exhib-
ited a negative implicit preference of warmth to the rich,
t(54) = 1.87, p= .066. In addition, 60% of the partici-
pants had a Dscore greater than zero. Collectively, these
findings suggest a marginally significant implicit effect of
low warmth. Thus, H1b is also supported at only marginal
levels of significance.
Correlations Between Implicit Stereotype and Self-Other
Similarity
Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics of the self-other
similarities over time. Perceived similarities between the
self and the rich gradually increased from 31.80 to 69.82
for the warmth group and from 34.50 to 65.65 for the
competence group across the six defined life periods. On
the other hand, perceived similarities between the self and
the average person decreased from 79.45 to 58.51 for the
warmth group, and from 71.06 to 55.46 for the competence
group. Indeed, using the linear-by-linear association chi-
square test, a significant association for each trend over
the defined time periods was documented at the .05 level.
Ta b l e 2
Descriptive Statistics Of Self-Others Similarities Over Time In Both Groups
Similarity between the Similarity between the
self and the rich self and the average person
Warmth Competence Warmth Competence
Item 1 31.80 (22.49) 34.50 (22.52) 79.45 (21.48) 71.06 (24.13)
Item 2 48.35 (18.30) 48.93 (20.83) 71.55 (21.38) 67.26 (25.33)
Item 3 57.45 (17.84) 57.20 (21.52) 67.02 (22.70) 63.04 (25.01)
Item 4 65.36 (18.27) 62.76 (22.20) 61.58 (25.70) 58.96 (25.24)
Item 5 68.76 (19.96) 65.04 (23.69) 60.58 (27.65) 55.46 (29.06)
Item 6 69.82 (20.27) 65.65 (24.17) 58.51 (27.28) 55.81 (29.37)
M–H 24.434.284.624.76
Note: For each similarity, items differed from 1 to 6 in time periods that ranged from 0 (the
current time) to 40 years with an increasing time trend.
SD
s in parentheses.
M–H χ2= Mantel–Haenszel chi-square for linear-by-linear trends
p
<.05.
Ta b l e 3
Correlations Between Implicit Stereotypes and Self-Others Similarity
Competence Warmth
D
scores
D
scores
Similarity between the self
and the rich
Item 1 .01 .39∗∗
Item 2 .04 .41∗∗
Item 3 .10 .39∗∗
Item 4 .11 .34
Item 5 .15 .30
Item 6 .14 .30
Similarity between the self
and the average person
Item 1 .12 .19
Item 2 .02 .18
Item 3 .07 .18
Item 4 .08 .06
Item 5 .15 .09
Item 6 .23 .10
Note: For each similarity, items differed from 1 to 6 in time periods that ranged from 0 (the
current time) to 40 years with an increasing time trend.
p
<.05, ∗∗
p
<.01.
Thus, our results confirm that people tend to associate
increasing and decreasing trends of similarity with the
rich and the average respectively over time.
Table 3 presents the correlation coefficients between
the Dscores and the similarities between the self and the
rich. As shown, the correlation coefficients between the
competence Dscores and the similarities between the self
and the rich decreased gradually across the six selected life
periods, from -0.01 to -0.15. This result indicates an in-
creased relationship between an implicit stereotype of the
rich and psychological connectedness across a lifetime. In
other words, for near future selves, almost no correlation
exists between how much people see this self as being like
the rich and their current views about the competence
of the rich. However, for distant future selves, it appears
that the more people view that self as being like the rich,
the less they view the rich as being stereotypically compe-
tent. However, none of these correlations differed signifi-
cantly from zero. Thus, H2a was not confirmed by our test
results.
The correlation coefficients between the warmth D
scores and the similarities between the self and the
rich were all significant at the .05 level. Moreover, the
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Chang-Jiang Liu, Yue Zhang, and Fang Hao
coefficients increased across the six selected life periods
from -.41 to -.30. In addition, a linear-by-linear associa-
tion chi-square test showed a significant association be-
tween the coefficients over time periods at the .05 level,
indicating that the more people see themselves becoming
like the rich as they age, the weaker becomes the corre-
lation with their current implicit warmth perception of
the rich. In other words, for near future selves, the more
people see themselves as being like the rich, the less they
currently view the rich as being stereotypically cold. How-
ever, this relationship becomes slightly weaker for more
distant selves. That is to say, the more people view their
distant self as being like the rich, the more inclined they
are to currently see the rich as being stereotypically cold.
For all participants, all six items related to similarities
between the self and the rich correlated significantly with
one another. Cronbach’s alpha for these items was .93.
Therefore, the scores for the items were combined in order
to generate a composite score of mean similarity between
the self and the rich. The correlation coefficient between
this mean and the warmth Dscore was -0.43, p<.01.
Furthermore, the regression result of this Dscore (with
the mean similarity between the self and the rich as the
predictor) indicates that similarity significantly predicts
people’s implicit perceptions of the rich as being warm
and moral, F= 12.08, p= .001, R2= .43. Thus, H2b is
supported.
In addition, the correlation coefficients between the
competence Dscores and the similarities between the
self and the average person increased gradually across
the six selected life periods, from -.12 to .23. Conversely,
the correlation coefficients between the warmth Dscores
and these similarities decreased from .19 to .06. However,
none of these correlations reached any degree of statistical
significance.
Discussion
The research presented in this article investigated the im-
plicit social perceptions of ordinary people toward the
social group of the rich. Our study also sought to find the
role of self in social perception. Grounded within the Big
Two framework (Abele & Wojciszke, 2013; Cuddy et al.,
2009;Holoien&Fiske,2013), an implicit ambivalent as-
sociation was observed in a social comparison context.
That is, the participants demonstrated a negative implicit
stereotype in terms of warmth rather than competence
when the social group of the rich was compared with the
social group comprised of average persons. As is consis-
tent with the predictions found in self-related theories,
this association was related to the degree of strength of the
psychological connectedness between different temporal
selves.
The mixed implicit stereotype of high competence and
low warmth held by the average person towardthe r ich was
verified in our study. In reality, the rich generate wealth
and prosperity for society, leading the average person to
consider that they themselves possess the ability to achieve
self-worth. However, the rich tend to exhibit a significantly
low level of social connections and thus find themselves
frequently being criticised (Cheng, 2009;Dittmar,1992;
Dworkin, 1996;Fiske&Cuddy,2006). Theoretically, it
has been argued that competence is desirable for oneself,
whereas warmth is desirable for others. In addition, judg-
ments of competence and warmth stem from perceived
socio-economic status and perceived interdependence re-
spectively (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2008). Thus, the evalu-
ation of competence is an intrapersonal process and inde-
pendent of social connections. Conversely, the evaluation
of warmth follows from the perceived relationship of the
group to social perceivers. Consequently, this type of dif-
ference in the social structural roots of the judgments of
both warmth and competence intensifies the degree of the
ambivalent perception of both dimensions in relation to
the rich.
Moreover, evidence from previous studies demon-
strates that with regard to social information process-
ing, warmth is preferred over competence, both in the
sense that warmth is judged before competence and that
judgments of warmth carry significant weight in affective
and behavioural reactions (Abele & Bruckm¨
uller, 2011;
Bruckm¨
uller & Abele, 2013; Wojciszke, 2005). As with
these processing asymmetries, negative information tends
to influence individual evaluations more strongly than
does positive information (Peeters & Czapinski, 1990;
Vaish, Grossmann, & Woodward, 2008). Therefore, the
processing asymmetries of warmth and competence may
also contribute to the formation of the real-life ambivalent
perceptions of the rich.
Most importantly, our results demonstrate a relation-
ship between the self and the perception of social groups.
People normally strengthen and accumulate wealth over
time, the process of which ultimately manifests in these
people becoming the rich. In this way, as our results have
demonstrated, people tend to define their future selves as
being more similar to the rich than to an average person.
This perceived similarity (and thus the enhanced degree of
psychological connectedness) between the current and fu-
ture selves increases the attraction toward the target group
(Montoya, Horton, & Kirchner, 2008). Our results show
that people who see themselves as being more like the rich
tend to currently perceive the rich as being less cold. How-
ever, these same people do not currently perceive the rich
as being more competent. Actually, they even view them
as being less competent, albeit not to any significant de-
gree. According to the self-completion theory (Gollwitzer
& Kirchhof, 1998), if ordinary people see themselves as
being more like (or even likely to become) the rich, their
positive identity achievement should not then damage
their sense of self-integrity or self-esteem. Thus, reducing
the negative evaluations of the self (i.e., being cold) can
protect or maintain one’s self-esteem. However, an in-
creased degree of similarity between the self and the rich
may make salient the lack of one’s current competence.
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Implicit Stereotype of the Rich
This may slightly damage ordinary people’s confidence
when attempting to pursue a positive identity. However,
of course, as noted above, this damaged confidence does
not lead ordinary people to currently perceive the rich as
being less competent to any significant extent . People still
maintain an overall favourable impression of the rich in
terms of social competence.
Moreover, our results show that increasing the distance
in time can significantly weaken the strength of the rela-
tionship between the self and the warmth perception of the
rich. Evidence shows that people represent and construe
their distant-future selves in a simpler and more decon-
textualised fashion than they do with their near-future
selves (Trope & Liberman, 2010; Wakslak et al., 2008). In
this way their distant-future selves (e.g., identity of the
rich) are actually perceived as belonging to a global but
abstract social category. This type of category then leads
people who see themselves as being more like the rich to
no longer currently perceive the rich as being that warm.
The present findings have implications for applied is-
sues. Given the current implicit perception of low degrees
of warmth, the rich should improve their social connec-
tions and their concerns regarding overall social welfare
more than the level currently perceived by the group com-
prised of ordinary people. For instance, the charitable
contributions from the richest Chinese constitute only a
small proportion of the total donations (Piff, Kraus, Cˆ
ot´
e,
Cheng, & Keltner, 2010; Tipton, 2012). However, these
individuals do donate large amounts to charity. The rich
should understand that giving to charities will actually
benefit them more over the long term than will taking from
society (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2014;Grant,2013).
An increasing degree of connectedness between the
current self and the future self is related to the stereo-
type of high warmth toward the rich. However, a caveat is
that people may accept the current negative sides of their
future selves in order to maintain a consistent identity.
For example, corruption is a problem in all countries and
generally threatens economic growth. If normal citizens
discover that the rich have obtained their wealth through
some improper means, they (the normal citizens) may
become more willing and inclined to participate in cor-
ruption ( ˇ
C´
abelkov´
a&Hanousek,2004). If people identify
their future self as a member of the rich group, they may
tolerate or even accept crimes committed by the rich. The
normal citizens will do so because they hold onto the
motivations of self-esteem and self-consistency to main-
tain a self-concept (Rosenberg, 1979; Steele, 1988). In this
manner and in this respect, people have the potential to
become corrupt.
The research presented in this article is not without
limitations. First, only marginally significant implicit ef-
fects of low warmth stereotype were observed. This find-
ing weakens our argument. However, even the statistically
small effects of the implicit test can still be seen to have
great societal significance (Greenwald, Banaji, & Nosek,
2015). For instance, repeated exposure to negative events
and news regarding the rich indeed strengthens people’s
inner belief that the rich generally lack warmth and moral-
ity and that they only care to maintain their own power
and competence. Second, the nature of the impression of
the social group of the rich may be blended with that of
possessing wealth. When the concept of the rich is men-
tioned, symbols of wealth and possession are automat-
ically activated and vice versa. However, these symbols
differ in that the features attached to the social group
ofthericharemoresocialinnature.Thesesymbolsare
thus more informative than those attached to an object
of wealth. For example, people may care about and an-
ticipate that one should return something to society once
she or he becomes wealthy. However, wealth itself does
not guarantee this type of reciprocity. Third, our current
analyses are correlational in nature. They do not imply
causal directions. Although our theoretical analyses on
positive identity achievement support the role of the self
in stereotypes of the advantaged, other possible explana-
tions may still exist. For example, people who currently
think less negatively about the warmth of the rich will be
more likely to see themselves as becoming like the rich as
they get older. Future studies should clarify this issue.
Concluding Remarks
The Big Two framework of social perception reflects two
basic dimensions of warmth and competence in social
judgment. On the other hand, theories pertaining to the
self and identity imply that individuals strive to achieve
distinct positive selves across time. This article supports
the notion that social perceptions of the advantaged are
automatically associated with high degrees of competence
and low degrees of warmth in the comparison context.
However, because of positive identity achievement, in-
creased psychological connectedness of the current self to
future self (stereotyped as an ideal representation of the
rich) would mitigate the negative perceptionof war mth to-
ward the rich. Therefore, those who are already rich should
improve their social connections, particularly in terms of
warmth, in order to maintain an overall favourable so-
cial image. Those who strive for wealth and prosperity
should cultivate their social connections and engage them-
selves in social welfare activities and improvements. The
warmth dimension of social perception would automat-
ically become active once such individuals become rich.
This would, in turn and in the long run, facilitate the
achievement of social harmony.
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank the editor and two anonymous
reviewers for their valuable comments and constructive
suggestions.
Funding
This research is supported by the key research center
funding of Humanities and Social Science of Ministry of
JOURNAL OF PACIFIC RIM PSYCHOLOGY 7
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Chang-Jiang Liu, Yue Zhang, and Fang Hao
Education China (Grant No. 16JJD880026) and a grant
from the National Natural Science Foundation of China
(Grant No. 71690242).
Appendix
List of attribute words and target words used in the IATs
Attribute Words of Warmth
Positive Negative
Chinese English Chinese English
Friendly Hard-hearted
Helpful Hypocritical
Warm-hearted Egoistic
Sincere Insidious
Honest Mean
Cooperative Dominating
Tolerant Unfriendly
Caring Irresponsible
Attribute Words of Competence
Positive Negative
Chinese English Chinese English
Able Lacking self-
discipline
Strong-minded Lazy
Meditative Passive
Imaginative Incapable
Self-confident Unknowing
Independent Stupid
Discriminating Unorganized
Clever Waving
Target words
The Rich The Average Person
Chinese English Chinese English
Billionaire The average man
Tycoon Mediocrity
The affluent Rank and File
The wealthy Civilian
Moneybags The Public
Wealthy woman Ordinary People
Rich Second Crowd
Generation
Parvenu The Populace
Note: IATs = Implicit Association Tests.
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Article
Full-text available
Wealth differences between individuals are ubiquitous in modern society, and often serve as the basis for biased social evaluations among adults. The present research probed whether children use cues that are commonly associated with wealth differences in society to guide their consideration of others. In Study 1, 4–5-year-old participants from diverse racial backgrounds expressed preferences for children who were paired with high-wealth cues; White children in Study 1 also matched high-wealth stimuli with White faces. Study 2 conceptually replicated the preference effect from Study 1, and showed that young children (4–6 years) also use material wealth indicators to guide their inferences about people’s relative standing in other domains (i.e., competence and popularity). Study 3 revealed that children (5–9 years) use a broad range of wealth cues to guide their evaluations of, and actions toward, unfamiliar people. Further, biased responses were not attenuated among children whose families were lower in socioeconomic status. Often overlooked by those who study children’s attitudes and stereotypes, social class markers appear to influence evaluations, inferences, and behavior early in development.
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Stereotype research emphasizes systematic processes over seemingly arbitrary contents, but content also may prove systematic. On the basis of stereotypes' intergroup functions, the stereotype content model hypothesizes that (a) 2 primary dimensions are competence and warmth, (b) frequent mixed clusters combine high warmth with low competence (paternalistic) or high competence with low warmth (envious), and (c) distinct emotions (pity, envy, admiration, contempt) differentiate the 4 competence-warmth combinations. Stereotypically, (d) status predicts high competence, and competition predicts low warmth. Nine varied samples rated gender, ethnicity, race, class, age, and disability out-groups. Contrary to antipathy models, 2 dimensions mattered, and many stereotypes were mixed, either pitying (low competence, high warmth subordinates) or envying (high competence, low warmth competitors). Stereotypically, status predicted competence, and competition predicted low warmth.
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What is psychological distance? Why do events sometimes seem “close” yet other times seem “ages away?” We propose a tripartite model of the foundations of psychological distance in which: (a) people use spatial distance as a metaphor for psychological distance; (b) the ecology of subjective experiences that coincide with changes in objective distance define, and hence, influence psychological distance; (c) psychological distance is shaped in the service of people's ultimate goals, or teleological considerations, of successfully navigating through time. This model implies that the subjective experiences that are typically associated with reductions in objective temporal distance should reduce temporal psychological distance–the subjective sense of how close or far away events are. We review evidence indicating that emotional arousal, attention, fluency, and motivational considerations all reduce psychological distance. This model also implies a temporal asymmetry in which people prioritize thinking about the future, which approaches in time, over thinking about the past, which recedes in time. Consequently, the future is psychologically closer than the past, people attend more to the future than to the past, and people feel more emotionally aroused about the future than about the past. These findings help advance understanding of psychological distance as a distinct psychological construct.
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In reporting Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, researchers have most often used scoring conventions described in the first publication of the IAT (A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, & J. L. K. Schwartz, 1998). Demonstration IATs available on the Internet have produced large data sets that were used in the current article to evaluate alternative scoring procedures. Candidate new algorithms were examined in terms of their (a) correlations with parallel self-report measures, (b) resistance to an artifact associated with speed of responding, (c) internal consistency, (d) sensitivity to known influences on IAT measures, and (e) resistance to known procedural influences. The best-performing measure incorporates data from the IAT's practice trials, uses a metric that is calibrated by each respondent's latency variability, and includes a latency penalty for errors. This new algorithm strongly outperforms the earlier (conventional) procedure.
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Information people rely on when making self-predictions may be influenced by temporal distance and the self-enhancement motive. We proposed, drawing from Construal Level Theory, that temporally distant (vs. near) predictions reflect the “gist” self-attributes, rather than other attributes (“noise”). Based on the self-enhancement literature, positive (vs. negative) attributes will be perceived as the “gist"; In three studies, we tested the hypothesis that positive attributes are more prominent in distant predictions. Distant (compared to near) predictions reflect the “gist” attributes, are more positive and confident (Study 1). Such predictions rely on positive (rather than negative) attributes (Study 2). Distant predictions reflect a greater better-than-average effect, better ratings on positive (and not-as-bad on negative) attributes in comparison to peers (Study 3). These tendencies hold true for individuals with varying levels of self-esteem (Studies 1, 3). The studies suggest that temporal distance and motivation to enhance the favorability of self-concept both influence prediction.
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The current review evaluates the status hypothesis, which states that that the desire for status is a fundamental motive. Status is defined as the respect, admiration, and voluntary deference individuals are afforded by others. It is distinct from related constructs such as power, financial success, and social belongingness. A review of diverse literatures lent support to the status hypothesis: People's subjective well-being, self-esteem, and mental and physical health appear to depend on the level of status they are accorded by others. People engage in a wide range of goal-directed activities to manage their status, aided by myriad cognitive, behavioral, and affective processes; for example, they vigilantly monitor the status dynamics in their social environment, strive to appear socially valuable, prefer and select social environments that offer them higher status, and react strongly when their status is threatened. The desire for status also does not appear to be a mere derivative of the need to belong, as some theorists have speculated. Finally, the importance of status was observed across individuals who differed in culture, gender, age, and personality, supporting the universality of the status motive. Therefore, taken as a whole, the relevant evidence suggests that the desire for status is indeed fundamental. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).