Who feels they contribute to U.S. society? Helping behaviors and social class disparities in perceived contributions
- Americans in lower social class contexts (SCC) are less likely to believe they contribute to society than Americans in higher SCC. Seven studies (N = 7,781) investigate whether one source of the social class disparity in perceived contributions is a cultural model that considers helping distant others (i.e., bridging help, e.g., volunteering) as more of a contribution to society than helping close others (i.e., bonding help, e.g., caring for family members). Chapter 1 introduces the U.S. cultural model of social good and posits that the differential value placed on bridging versus bonding help relates to social class inequality. Certain forms of bridging help tend to be relatively more practiced in higher (vs. lower) SCC, whereas certain forms of bonding help tend to be relatively more practiced in lower (vs. higher) SCC. Thus, valuing bridging help over bonding help can undermine the contributions of Americans in lower SCC. Chapter 2 presents evidence that Americans in lower (vs. higher) SCC perceive they contribute less to society. In Chapter 3, three experiments and a correlational study provide evidence for the U.S. cultural model of social good that may be a potential source of these disparities; Americans across SCC, and even helpers themselves, perceive bridging help as more of a contribution to society than bonding help. Further, Chapter 3 identifies the perceived choice to help as one reason why bridging help is perceived as more of a contribution than bonding help. Chapter 4 investigates how bridging and bonding help relate to social class disparities in perceived contributions to society and explores possible implications for well-being. Together, these studies suggest that people in lower SCC can experience a psychological inequality not because they do less for others but because what they do more of counts less as a contribution. This dissertation raises novel questions about sociocultural variation in prosociality and the role of doing good for others in individual and collective well-being.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Reinhart, Ellen C
|Degree committee member
|Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
|Stanford University, Department of Psychology
|Statement of responsibility
|Ellen Christine Reinhart.
|Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.
- © 2023 by Ellen C. Reinhart
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY).
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