Social Class as Culture

Alice In WonderlandVia ScienceDaily:

Social class is more than just how much money you have. It’s also the clothes you wear, the music you like, the school you go to — and has a strong influence on how you interact with others, according to the authors of a new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

People from lower classes have fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world than people in upper classes — a fact that should figure into debates on public policy, according to the authors.”Americans, although this is shifting a bit, kind of think class is irrelevant,” says Dacher Keltner of the University of California-Berkeley, who cowrote the article with Michael W. Kraus of UC-San Francisco and Paul K. Piff of UC-Berkeley. “I think our studies are saying the opposite: This is a profound part of who we are.”

People who come from a lower-class background have to depend more on other people. “If you don’t have resources and education, you really adapt to the environment, which is more threatening, by turning to other people,” Keltner says. “People who grow up in lower-class neighborhoods, as I did, will say,’ There’s always someone there who will take you somewhere, or watch your kid. You’ve just got to lean on people.'”

Read more MSNBC gives here.more details:

[Keltner] points to his own research and that of others. For example, lower class subjects are better at deciphering the emotions of people in photographs than are rich people.

In video recordings of conversations, rich people are more likely to appear distracted, checking cell phones, doodling, avoiding eye contact, while low-income people make eye contact and nod their heads more frequently signaling engagement.

In one test, for example, Keltner and other colleagues had 115 people play the “dictator game,” a standard trial of economic behavior. “Dictators” were paired with an unseen partner, given ten “points” that represented money, and told they could share as many or as few of the points with the partner as they desired. Lower-class participants gave more even after controlling for gender, age or ethnicity…

Read more here.

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  • psychegram

    ‘The rich are different from you and I’, as Ezra Pound mused. And no, it’s not just that they have more money, as Hemingway would have it. ‘It’s something else.’ What it is, is a lack of empathy. In the most successful cases (ie, those highest up the greasy pole) it expresses as full-blown psychopathy. Actually you could make a case that the psychopaths were that way regardless, and that all we’ve done is created a situation that just encourages the blighters … which then encourages others to emulate them, even if they were born with mirror neurons in the first place. At any rate, allowing people with no capacity for other-consideration to hold all the cards and make the Big Decisions is a recipe for Big Disasters … and that’s exactly what we’re being served. Bon appetit, humanity.  

  • psychegram

    ‘The rich are different from you and I’, as Ezra Pound mused. And no, it’s not just that they have more money, as Hemingway would have it. ‘It’s something else.’ What it is, is a lack of empathy. In the most successful cases (ie, those highest up the greasy pole) it expresses as full-blown psychopathy. Actually you could make a case that the psychopaths were that way regardless, and that all we’ve done is created a situation that just encourages the blighters … which then encourages others to emulate them, even if they were born with mirror neurons in the first place. At any rate, allowing people with no capacity for other-consideration to hold all the cards and make the Big Decisions is a recipe for Big Disasters … and that’s exactly what we’re being served. Bon appetit, humanity.  

  • psychegram

    ‘The rich are different from you and I’, as Ezra Pound mused. And no, it’s not just that they have more money, as Hemingway would have it. ‘It’s something else.’ What it is, is a lack of empathy. In the most successful cases (ie, those highest up the greasy pole) it expresses as full-blown psychopathy. Actually you could make a case that the psychopaths were that way regardless, and that all we’ve done is created a situation that just encourages the blighters … which then encourages others to emulate them, even if they were born with mirror neurons in the first place. At any rate, allowing people with no capacity for other-consideration to hold all the cards and make the Big Decisions is a recipe for Big Disasters … and that’s exactly what we’re being served. Bon appetit, humanity.  

  • psychegram

    ‘The rich are different from you and I’, as Ezra Pound mused. And no, it’s not just that they have more money, as Hemingway would have it. ‘It’s something else.’ What it is, is a lack of empathy. In the most successful cases (ie, those highest up the greasy pole) it expresses as full-blown psychopathy. Actually you could make a case that the psychopaths were that way regardless, and that all we’ve done is created a situation that just encourages the blighters … which then encourages others to emulate them, even if they were born with mirror neurons in the first place. At any rate, allowing people with no capacity for other-consideration to hold all the cards and make the Big Decisions is a recipe for Big Disasters … and that’s exactly what we’re being served. Bon appetit, humanity.  

    • Hadrian999

      when you have a certain amount of wealth and power empathy can be a curse, you will be a constant target, people will be constantly trying to get things from you or attach themselves to you, wealthy people can’t live their lives like people from a lower station, people who rise in station can have a hard time because of the changes that have to be made, the difference in outlook between classes is really no surprise

      • psychegram

        None of which excuses the epic stupidity of allowing the empathy-impaired to make societal decisions. It’s a bit like, “the London rioters are disenfranchised” narrative: yes, true, and it explains why they are doing what they’re doing, but it does not excuse it. And obviously, the two issues are deeply connected … packs of feral youth burning down department stores after sacking them is directly connected to packs of the feral rich burning the economy after sacking it. 

        • StillAtMyMoms

          Best analogy I’ve read on Disinfo.

        • Nunzio X

          Yes, as I told someone:

          The looting done by the poor looks different from the looting done by the rich, but the rich get away with it and manage to do more damage.

          In both cases, however, it’s inexcusable, if “understandable.”

          • Hadrian999

            it’s much like the perceptions that  bombings with high tech weapons aren’t terrorism

  • Hadrian999

    when you have a certain amount of wealth and power empathy can be a curse, you will be a constant target, people will be constantly to get things from you or attach themselves to you, wealthy people can’t live their lives like people from a lower station, people who rise in station can have a hard time because of the changes that have to be made, the difference in outlook between classes is really no surprise

  • psychegram

    None of which excuses the epic stupidity of allowing the empathy-impaired to make societal decisions. It’s a bit like, “the London rioters are disenfranchised” narrative: yes, true, and it explains why they are doing what they’re doing, but it does not excuse it. And obviously, the two issues are deeply connected … packs of feral youth burning down department stores after sacking them is directly connected to packs of the feral rich burning the economy after sacking it. 

  • Curumim

    They take all this time to realize that rich people are all sonofabiches?

  • Curumim

    They take all this time to realize that rich people are all sonofabiches?

  • StillAtMyMoms

    I guess it solidifies that we’re all just a product of our environment and the increasing economic disparity currently unfolding is enhancing it even more so.  I always believed that lower class people, wait, that’s a wrong choice of a term, more like financially-strapped people had a much bigger conscience.  Because the majority of the rich had to step on someone at one time or another to get where they are currently at now.  You can’t worry about morals, ethics, etc., otherwise you’ll soon come to the realization that you had to be somewhat of a prick to achieve financial success.  Money is one giant con game–that’s being devalued annually and will become worthless sooner than expected.  Fuck it, let’s go bowling.

  • StillAtMyMoms

    I guess it solidifies that we’re all just a product of our environment and the increasing economic disparity currently unfolding is enhancing it even more so.  I always believed that lower class people, wait, that’s a wrong choice of a term, more like financially-strapped people had a much bigger conscience.  Because the majority of the rich had to step on someone at one time or another to get where they are currently at now.  You can’t worry about morals, ethics, etc., otherwise you’ll soon come to the realization that you had to be somewhat of a prick to achieve financial success.  Money is one giant con game–that’s being devalued annually and will become worthless sooner than expected.  Fuck it, let’s go bowling.

  • StillAtMyMoms

    Best analogy I’ve read on Disinfo.

  • Nunzio X

    Yes, as I told someone:

    The looting done by the poor looks different from the looting done by the rich, but the rich get away with it and manage to do more damage.

    In both cases, however, it’s inexcusable, if “understandable.”

  • Hadrian999

    it’s much like the perceptions that  bombings with high tech weapons aren’t terrorism

  • el_jefe

    this isn’t anything new.  i refer any interested parties to georg lukacs (primarily), lucien goldmann, and herbert marcuse.

  • el_jefe

    this isn’t anything new.  i refer any interested parties to georg lukacs (primarily), lucien goldmann, and herbert marcuse.

  • Anonymous

    “In video recordings of conversations, rich people are more likely to appear distracted, checking cell phones, doodling, avoiding eye contact, while low-income people make eye contact and nod their heads more frequently signaling engagement.”

    Good stuff.  I’ve noticed this my whole life, but not been able to articulate it before.

    My family’s history is an odd jumble of white trash, plastic middle class burghers and shambollick gentry in rapid decline.  Even as a kid I remember overhearing some members of the down-market branches of my family commenting at the weirdly stiff, awkward and unconvincing tenor of “their betters'” conversation and body language.  Some pretty funny digs.

    My guess, after spending decades in the corporate world, is that it’s at least partially a defense mechanism.  Participation in the fundamentally alienating structures of economic or political power creates a paranoia and flight from emotional engagement.

    That could explain why Americans in general are so weird.  At least since the “end” of the Cold War, we’ve glorified phony corporate culture, placing it on a pillar higher than any concern for morality, compassion or even plain common sense.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    “In video recordings of conversations, rich people are more likely to appear distracted, checking cell phones, doodling, avoiding eye contact, while low-income people make eye contact and nod their heads more frequently signaling engagement.”

    Good stuff.  I’ve noticed this my whole life, but not been able to articulate it before.

    My family’s history is an odd jumble of white trash, plastic middle class burghers and shambollick gentry in rapid decline.  Even as a kid I remember overhearing some members of the down-market branches of my family commenting at the weirdly stiff, awkward and unconvincing tenor of “their betters'” conversation and body language.  Some pretty funny digs.

    My guess, after spending decades in the corporate world, is that it’s at least partially a defense mechanism.  Participation in the fundamentally alienating structures of economic or political power creates a paranoia and flight from emotional engagement.

    That could explain why Americans in general are so weird.  At least since the “end” of the Cold War, we’ve glorified phony corporate culture, placing it on a pillar higher than any concern for morality, compassion or even plain common sense.

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