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Opposing Effects of Objective and Subjective Social Status on Prosociality: Theory and Quasi-Experiment

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)
Author TuticAndreas, LiebeUlf,
Project Social status and prosociality: A cross-cultural study in four selected countries
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Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book Rationality in Social Science
Editor , Tutic Andreas; , Raub Werner; , Krumpal Ivar
Publisher Springer VS, Wiesbaden
Page(s) 221 - 244
ISBN 978-3-658-33535-9
Title of proceedings Rationality in Social Science

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Previous research in sociology, social psychology and economics on the question if and to what extent social status groups differ in prosocial behavior provides only inconclusive and contradictory evidence. While some studies find a negative relationship between social status and prosociality, others find a positive one. We propose a formal model and predict that (1) objective social status is positively correlated with prosociality and (2) subjective social status is negatively correlated with prosociality, given statistical control of objective status. These hypotheses are put to an empirical test using data from a quasi-experiment with over 600 ninth-graders from Germany. The data include measures of objective and subjective social status. Our findings support both hypotheses and provide direct evidence for a self-enhancing bias in subjective social status. We therefore contribute to explaining the inconclusive findings of subsequent research on the status-prosociality nexus.