Perceiving a lack of social justice: Lower class individuals apply higher moral standards to others

Xue WANG, Zhansheng CHEN, Kai Tak POON, Tonglin JIANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Four studies (N = 1,151) examined whether people with lower subjective social classes would be more likely to apply higher moral standards to others than to themselves. With participants from mainland China, Hong Kong, and the United States, we found that people of lower measured or manipulated subjective social classes accepted others' hypothetical transgressions less than their own transgressions (Studies 1 and 4), and they claimed others should allocate more money to their partners in a dictator game than they themselves did (Studies 2 and 3). This effect was mediated by perceived injustice (Study 3) and eliminated when the perceived social justice was boosted (Study 4). Higher class individuals did not show such discrepant self–other moral standards. A mini meta-analysis validates the reliability of the findings that only lower class individuals demonstrate double moral standards. Therefore, lower class individuals may increase moral requirements on others as a reaction to their perceived unjust disadvantages. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Early online dateApr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2020

Citation

Wang, X., Chen, Z., Poon, K.-T., & Jiang, T. (2020). Perceiving a lack of social justice: Lower class individuals apply higher moral standards to others. Social Psychological and Personality Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1948550619898558

Keywords

  • Social class
  • Double moral standards
  • Moral judgment
  • Social justice

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