Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

Choice as an act of meaning: The case of social class, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Abstract

Social class is one important source of models of agency normative guidelines for how to be a good person. Using choice as a prototypically agentic action, five studies test the hypotheses that models of agency prevalent in working class (WK) contexts reflect a normative preference for similarity to others, whereas models prevalent in middle class (MD) contexts reflect a preference for difference from others. Focusing on participants' choices, we found that participants from WK relative to MD contexts more often chose pens that appeared similar to, rather than different from, other pens in the choice set, and more often chose the same images as another participant. Focusing on participants' responses to others' choices, we found that participants from WK relative to MD contexts liked their chosen pens more when a confederate chose similarly, and responded more positively when a friend chose the same car in a hypothetical scenario. Finally, we found that car advertisements targeting WK rather than MD consumers more often emphasized connection to, rather than differentiation from, others, suggesting that models of agency are reflected in pervasive cultural products.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Nicole Stephens, Sarah S.M. Townsend

Date Published

2007

Citations

Stephens, Nicole, and Sarah S.M. Townsend. 2007. Choice as an act of meaning: The case of social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 93(5): 814-830.

KELLOGG INSIGHT

Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more

COURSE CATALOG

Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.
LEARN MORE

DEGREE PROGRAMS

Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more

Take Action