Perceived material wealth and first impressions

Dittmar, Helga (1992) Perceived material wealth and first impressions. British Journal of Social Psychology, 31 (4). pp. 379-392. ISSN 0144-6665

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This study explores the significance of material possessions and wealth when people form first impressions of others' identities. Two theoretical perspectives suggest different kinds of social information respondents may draw on when making inferences about a person in a material context: (1) the intergroup relations approach focuses on similarity in socio-economic background between perceiver and target, and (2) dominant representations underline the importance of a societally shared, consensual frame of reference about the relation between wealth and identity. One hundred and twelve adolescents (half) attending private schools, half a state school with a working-class catchment area) were shown one of four videos which depicted the same woman or man in either affluent or less privileged material circumstances. Respondents' evaluations of the video target's personal qualities and their judgements about the similarity between the material setting in the video and their home environment were analysed by MANOVAs. Findings support the dominant representations approach, whereas perceived similarity in socioeconomic background did not influence impressions. These results are discussed in terms of ‘ideological’ representations about material context and identity, and their implications for social identity theory.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Helga Dittmar
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 07:47
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2017 07:47
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