Current theorizing on socioeconomic status (SES) focuses on the availability of resources and the freedom they afford as a key determinant of the association between high SES and stronger orientation toward the self and, by implication, weaker orientation toward others. However, this work relies nearly exclusively on data from Western countries where self-orientation is strongly sanctioned. In the present work, we predicted and found that especially in East Asian countries, where other-orientation is strongly sanctioned, high SES is associated with stronger other-orientation as well as with self-orientation. We first examined both psychological attributes (Study 1, N = 2,832) and socialization values (Study 2a, N = 4,675) in Japan and the United States. In line with the existent evidence, SES was associated with greater self-oriented psychological attributes and socialization values in both the U.S. and Japan. Importantly, however, higher SES was associated with greater other orientation in Japan, whereas this association was weaker or even reversed in the United States. Study 2b (N = 85,296) indicated that the positive association between SES and self-orientation is found, overall, across 60 nations. Further, Study 2b showed that the positive association between SES and other-orientation in Japan can be generalized to other Confucian cultures, whereas the negative association between SES and other-orientation in the U.S. can be generalized to other Frontier cultures. Implications of the current findings for modernization and globalization are discussed.
- Socioeconomic status
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science