Knowledge of wealth shapes social impressions.
Sarkar A., Nithyanand D., Sella F., Sarkar R., Mäkelä I., Cohen Kadosh R., Elliot AJ., Thompson JM.
Seven experiments conducted in India and the United States (N ∼7,000; 5 preregistered) examined the effects of wealth on warmth and competence, 2 fundamental dimensions of social impressions. Wealth causally influenced perceptions of a target's competence: high wealth increased perceived competence and low wealth decreased perceived competence (Experiments 1-3). Furthermore, both high and low wealth reduced perceived warmth compared with control conditions that provided no wealth-related information (Experiments 2 and 3). Attributing prosocial tendencies to the target in the form of charitable donations reversed wealth-induced reductions in warmth, while low levels of charitable donations lowered both perceived warmth and competence (Experiment 3). Reciprocally, information about the target's competence or warmth influenced how wealthy they were perceived to be (Experiment 4). Knowing the source of wealth (e.g., entrepreneurship, corporate fraud, inheritance) also affected perceptions of competence and warmth (Experiments 5 and 6). Moreover, participants expressed greater willingness to hire wealthier targets compared with poorer targets in hypothetical employment scenarios, a relationship mediated by perceived competence, suggesting that an individual's wealth may influence consequential assessments and decisions (Experiment 7). With rising economic inequality, it is crucial to understand how wealthy and poor individuals are perceived and the implications of these perceptions. The present experiments offer insight in this direction. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).