ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (10): 1161-1172.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.01161

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles    

How can successful people share their goodness with the world: The psychological mechanism underlying the upper social classes’ redistributive preferences and the role of humility

BAI Jie1, YANG Shenlong2, XU Buxiao3, GUO Yongyu1()   

  1. 1School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China
    2Institute of Social Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Science, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710049, China
    3Center for Brain, Mind and Education, Shaoxing University, Zhejiang, Shaoxing 312000, China
  • Received:2020-08-19 Published:2021-10-25 Online:2021-08-23
  • Contact: GUO Yongyu
  • Supported by:
    the general program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(71971120);the key program of National Social Science Foundation of China(20AZD084)


A large number of studies conducted in Europe and America have explored the negative relationships between social class and redistributive preferences. However, few studies have addressed the cross-cultural consistency or explored the internal mechanism and intervention strategies of the effects of social class on redistributive preferences. The results showed that as in Western society, upper social-class Chinese individuals also tend to have lower redistributive preferences than those from lower social classes. In addition, the effects of social class on redistributive preferences could be partly mediated through the attributions for rich-poor gap. Compared with individuals from a subjectively lower class, upper-class individuals tended to attribute the gap between rich and poor to internal causes. That is to say, they tended to attribute the rich-gap to personal factors, such as abilities, efforts, and ambition. This attitude lowered upper-class individuals’ redistributive preferences even further. Finally, priming a humble state lowered upper-class individuals’ tendency to attribute the gap between rich and poor to internal causes, and further improved their redistributive preferences to a significant extent. These findings provide supporting data for the inequality maintenance model of social class and shed light upon social governance in promoting wealth redistribution and the sharing of developmental fruits.

Key words: social class, attributions for rich-poor gap, redistributive preferences, humility