UBC Undergraduate Research

Perceived socioeconomic status and inequality alter one’s ability to identify emotions Guengerich, Lydia; Schmalor, Anita; Heine, Steven 2020-04

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Perceived socioeconomic status and inequality alter one’s ability to identify emotionsLydia Guengerich, UndergraduateAnita Schmalor (Graduate) Steven Heine (PhD)The University of British ColumbiaWhat is Empathic Accuracy?the ability to infer the specific content of another person’s thoughts and feelings ● Implications: ○ Clinical ○ Relationship satisfaction○ Social interactions ○ Prosocial behaviour○ Empathy responsesWhat impacts one’s empathic accuracy?● Kraus and colleagues (2010) found that higher socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with lower levels of empathic accuracy Differences in the way they navigate their environments Environmental orientation High SES Low SESInternalFocus on the selfExternalFocus on contextWorse at identifying other’s emotionsBetter at identifying emotionsDifferent levels of inequality change the psychological experience of being at that SESHow does perceived economic inequality impact the relationship between SES and empathic accuracy?Research Questions1. Does socioeconomic status impact one’s empathic accuracy? 2. How is this relationship affected by perceptions of economic inequality? Study Methods● 284 participants from MTurk● Asked to complete the Reading the Mind in the Eyes of Others testBaron et al., 2001Study MethodsResults Perceived inequalityat the mean:b = -1.00, p < .001Results Perceived inequalityat the mean:b = -1.00, p < .001Results Interaction: b = -0.37, p = .004controlling for perceived unfairness, political orientation, ethnicity, & gender Implications● Diminished neural empathic responses● Less prosocial behaviour● Increased propensity for aggression● Decreased relationship satisfactionLow SESHigh SES● Increased neural empathic responses● More prosocial behaviour● Negative affect ● Higher relationship qualityImplicationsLow SESHigh SESPerceiving high inequality measurably increases the differences between SES● Poorer health outcomes● Increased conflict between classesFuture research directions● Replicate with an experimental design● What other factors moderate the relationship between SES and empathic accuracy? ● What are some of the positive and negative effects of heightened empathic accuracy at lower social classes?Questions?

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