Sunday, August 01, 2010
In follow-up experiments, the researchers asked participants to imagine and write about a hypothetical interaction with someone who was extremely wealthy or extremely poor. This sort of storytelling is used routinely by psychologists when they wish to induce a temporary change in someone’s point of view.
In this case the change intended was to that of a higher or lower social class than the individual perceived he normally belonged to. The researchers then asked participants to indicate what percentage of a person’s income should be spent on charitable donations. They found that both real lower-class participants and those temporarily induced to rank themselves as lower class felt that a greater share of a person’s salary should be used to support charity.
Upper-class participants said 2.1% of incomes should be donated. Lower-class individuals felt that 5.6% was the appropriate slice. Upper-class participants who were induced to believe they were lower class suggested 3.1%. And lower-class individuals who had been “psychologically promoted” thought 3.3% was about right.