Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




General Psychology

Committee Chair

JiaWei Zhang

Committee Member

Robert Cohen

Committee Member

J. Gayle Beck

Committee Member

Deranda Lester


Previous research found that upper-class people, those with greater resources (Oakes & Rossi, 2003) and perceptions of higher social rank (Adler et al., 2000), behave less prosocially than their lower-class counterparts, those with limited resources (Oakes & Rossi, 2003) and perceptions of lower social rank (Adler et al., 2000). However, this line of research only focused on younger(Mage = 36.35, SD = 12.31) people. Research suggests that older adults prioritize others’ needs over their own needs. We aimed to replicate the social class and prosociality relationship (see Piff et al., 2010) in a large sample of adults between the age of 20-80 (N = 796). Beyond the social class and prosociality link, we hypothesized that older upper-class people are equally prosocial as their younger, middle-aged, and older-aged lower-class counterparts. Participants were randomly assigned into an upper-class or lower-class condition that led them to compare themselves to others in the U.S. with the best (worst) education, occupation, and income. Then, participants reported their objective social class (e.g., education, household income) and subjective social class (e.g., ladder). Afterward, participants indicated their attitudes toward charitable donations and played the dictator game that assessed their generosity. We found that participants in the upper-class condition and lower-class condition did not differ on generosity and charitable donation. Moderator analyses showed that age did not moderate the link between social class and prosociality. Thus, the results didn’t replicate past research and didn’t support our hypothesis that age would moderate the social class and prosociality link. The general discussion explores why we didn’t replicate past findings and the lack of age as a moderator.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.