Economic Inequality Is Linked to Biased Self-Perception

Steve Loughnan*, Peter Kuppens, Juri Allik, Katalin Balazs, Soledad de Lemus, Kitty Dumont, Rafael Gargurevich, Istvan Hidegkuti, Bernhard Leidner, Lennia Matos, Joonha Park, Anu Realo, Junqi Shi, Victor Eduardo Sojo, Yuk-yue Tong, Jeroen Vaes, Philippe Verduyn, Victoria Yeung, Nick Haslam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

People's self-perception biases often lead them to see themselves as better than the average person (a phenomenon known as self-enhancement). This bias varies across cultures, and variations are typically explained using cultural variables, such as individualism versus collectivism. We propose that socioeconomic differences among societies-specifically, relative levels of economic inequality-play an important but unrecognized role in how people evaluate themselves. Evidence for self-enhancement was found in 15 diverse nations, but the magnitude of the bias varied. Greater self-enhancement was found in societies with more income inequality, and income inequality predicted cross-cultural differences in self-enhancement better than did individualism/collectivism. These results indicate that macrosocial differences in the distribution of economic goods are linked to microsocial processes of perceiving the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254-1258
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Volume22
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • self-perception
  • self-enhancement
  • income inequality
  • culture
  • self-esteem
  • sociocultural factors
  • socioeconomic status
  • 20 COUNTRIES
  • ENHANCEMENT
  • INDIVIDUALISM
  • COLLECTIVISM
  • CULTURE
  • PSYCHOLOGY
  • PUNISHMENT
  • EVOLUTION
  • AVERAGE

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