Inequality, Threat, and the Social Fabric: Laboratory Studies on the Harmful Effects of Income Inequality on Social Relations and Well-Being

Awarded Scholars:
Serena Chen, University of California, Berkeley
Dacher Keltner, University of California, Berkeley
Project Date:
Jul 2015
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Psychologists Serena Chen and Dacher Keltner will complete six different experimental manipulations that will focus on the relationships between income inequality and several social and health outcomes. They will examine how increases in the individual’s awareness of income inequality, as well as laboratory-based, face-to-face experiences of simulated income inequality, shape the individual’s emotional, behavioral, and physiological responses. Chen and Keltner indicate that an experimental approach can help illuminate the proximal, psychological processes through which inequality worsens social and physical well-being for much of the population.

In their study, the investigators will address several hypotheses that consider how perceived inequality influences appraisals of threat, and the implications for measures of social cognition, social behavior, and physiological responses related to health.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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