Article | British Journal of Social Psychology | 2013

Nations' Income Inequality Predicts Ambivalence in Stereotype Content: How Societies Mind the Gap

by Federica Durante, S. T. Fiske, Nicolas Kervyn and Amy J.C. Cuddy

Abstract

Income inequality undermines societies: the more inequality, the more health problems, social tensions, and the lower social mobility, trust, and life expectancy. Given people's tendency to legitimate existing social arrangements, the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) argues that ambivalence―perceiving many groups as either warm or competent, but not both―may help maintain socio-economic disparities. The association between stereotype ambivalence and income inequality in 37 cross-national samples from Europe, the Americas, Oceania, Asia, and Africa investigates how groups' overall warmth-competence, status-competence, and competition-warmth correlations vary across societies, and whether these variations associate with income inequality (Gini index). More unequal societies report more ambivalent stereotypes, while more equal ones dislike competitive groups and do not necessarily respect them as competent. Unequal societies may need ambivalence for system stability: income inequality compensates groups with partially positive social images.

Keywords: stereotypes; power and influence; cross-cultural/cross-border; inequality; Prejudice and Bias; Equality and Inequality; Income Characteristics; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Power and Influence;

Citation:

Durante, Federica, S. T. Fiske, Nicolas Kervyn, and Amy J.C. Cuddy. "Nations' Income Inequality Predicts Ambivalence in Stereotype Content: How Societies Mind the Gap." British Journal of Social Psychology 52, no. 4 (December 2013): 726–746.