Do people from the upper social classes engage in less prosocial behavior than their lower social class counterparts? For example, do upper class people donate a smaller portion of their income to charity, and are they generally less helpful?
Previous psychological studies have actually found that because lower social class individuals are in difficult circumstances themselves, they are more concerned with the welfare of other persons than higher class individuals are. Martin Korndörfer, Stefan Schmukle, and Boris Egloff recently conducted a study using large representative data sets with up to 37,000 participants.
Their study, recently published in PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133193), did not support these results but instead found the opposite effect in the majority of their analyses. The researchers from the University of Leipzig and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz examined international data from large surveys such as the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
The people who responded to these surveys reported their income, education, and job prestige and provided information about several prosocial behaviors such as donating, volunteering, and helping in everyday situations (e.g., allowing a stranger to go ahead of them in line).
The research team’s analyses brought to light an unexpected result: Compared with lower social class individuals, higher social class individuals were more charitable, helpful, generous, and trusting. For example, in a digital real-pay economic game that was designed to measure participants’ trust behavior, individuals from the higher social realms gave more to an assigned stranger than individuals from the lower social realms.
Interestingly, this main result was predominantly independent of country (Germany, the United States, or one of 28 other countries) and the measure of social class (income, education, job prestige, or subjective social standing).
"These findings are especially important in the context of growing social disparities. They show that individuals from the middle and upper social classes seem to take on the social responsibilities that are ascribed to them to a higher degree than one would expect on the basis of previous psychological studies,” says Martin Korndörfer. The authors attribute this difference in findings to the previously common use of small samples that primarily consisted of American students who simply did not vary in social class.
"Ultimately, higher social class individuals might not always be more (or less) prosocial than people from lower social classes—there are differences that depend on the observed prosocial behavior and important circumstances that have yet to be determined. What we do know for sure is that the statement alleged by many psychologists—that the upper class is generally less helpful—is presumably not true," summarizes Martin Korndörfer.
Martin Korndörfer, Boris Egloff, Stefan C. Schmukle
Dr. Martin Korndörfer
Susann Huster | Universität Leipzig
Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy