Social class as culture: The convergence of resources and rank in the social realm

Michael W. Kraus, Paul K. Piff, Dacher Keltner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social class reflects more than the material conditions of people's lives. Objective resources (e.g.,income) shape cultural practices and behaviors that signal social class. These signals create cultural identities among upper- and lower-class individuals-identities that are rooted in subjective perceptions of social-class rank vis-à-vis others. Empirical studies find that perceptions of social-class rank influence patterns of contextual versus dispositional cognition and other- versus self-oriented affect and behavior that are consistent with objective resource-based measures of social class. Our theoretical conceptualization emphasizes the utility of measuring and manipulating perceptions of social-class rank to better understand how social class influences thought and action across diverse social domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-250
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • culture
  • inequality
  • rank
  • social class
  • social hierarchy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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