Leitung: David Weiss | Leipzig University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Diskutant: Werner Greve | University of Hildesheim (email@example.com)
Status hierarchies are basis of virtually all human and non-human primate societies and assign different roles and privileges to its members. Not surprisingly, the perceived standing of a person or group in the social hierarchy is part and parcel of social life and a significant determinant of emotion, cognition, and behavior. However, we know very little about the psychological mechanisms underlying status hierarchies that contribute to social inequality. This symposium takes a developmental lifespan perspective to investigate the psychological mechanisms underlying social inequality from childhood to old age. First, Elenbaas examines how children’s perceptions of others’ economic status shape their social interactions showing that from as early as the preschool years, children perceive play activities to be stratified by economic status. Second, Knafo-Noam and Segal investigated how twin dominance relationships affect resource distributions revealing that dominant twins are more likely to contribute to the co-twin starting at age six. Third, Hepach and von Suchodoletz investigate the expression of social (pride and shame) and basic (joy and disappointment) emotions through assessing changes in participants’ upper-body posture and story vignettes demonstrating that adults’ expressions of pride are comparable to those observed in young children. Fourth, Weiss and Kunzmann show that the acceptance and emotional experience of social inequality depends on people’s self-perceived social status among middle-aged and older but not young adults. Werner Greve will discuss the different findings with regards to the psychological correlates and consequences of social inequality from a developmental lifespan perspective.
Who plays together? Young children expect economic exclusion in peer interactions
Laura Elenbaas | University of Rochester (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Young children recognize that others vary in economic status, and use terms like “rich” and “poor” in everyday life. Beyond documenting a preference for wealthy peers, however, little is known about how children’s perceptions of others’ economic status shape their social interactions. Drawing on theories of early normativity and intergroup attitudes, this study examined N = 95 socioeconomically diverse 3- to 5-year old’s expectations regarding inclusion and exclusion among peers of different economic backgrounds. Between 3 and 5 years children increasingly expected a rich peer to play with another rich peer rather than a poor or middle class peer, but had no specific expectations for whom a poor or middle class peer would include. By contrast, children expected others of all backgrounds to exclude a poor peer from play activities. With age, children increasingly explained their predictions with explicit references to social class. Play supports the development of a wide range of social competencies, and diverse playmates support the development of inclusive intergroup attitudes. However, these results indicate that, from as early as the preschool years, children perceive play activities to be stratified by economic status.
Twin Dominance Status and Inter-twin Prosocial and Pro-self Behavior: An Exploratory Study
Ariel Knafo-Noam & Hila Segal | Hebrew University of Jerusalem (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hundreds of twin studies have focused on genetic and environmental contributions to physical and psychological traits. Much less work focused on the twins themselves. Twins are interesting in their own right, as a unique social system, with incomparable potential to both intimacy and rivalry. It is therefore of special interest to study twin relationships, and particularly dominance relationships.
Twins (initial N=1560 pairs) participated in five measurement points from age three to age nine as part of the Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins (LIST). Parents rated twin relationships using the Twin Relationship Questionnaire (TRQ; Segal & Knafo-Noam, 2019). Most relationship dimensions, such as closeness, were strongly correlated between twins within the same pair. In contrast, dominance was largely uncorrelated, suggesting it is an individual-level variable, with either Twin A (firstborn, 50%) or Twin B (32%) more dominant. 18% of pairs showed no clear dominance pattern. Importantly, early dominance patterns persisted throughout the period of the study.
How does dominance affect resource distribution within the pair? Subsamples of twin pairs participated in behavioural tasks assessing inter-twin behaviour. Using the Resource Allocation Game (a variation on the dictator game), the dominant twin was more likely to contribute to the co-twin than the other way around, although this result was not replicated in all decision tasks. Starting at age 6.5, twins engaged in a task working for themselves and for their co-twin. At age 8-9 (but not age 6.5) dominant twins worked more both for themselves and for their co-twin.
The implications of the findings to twin relationships as well as to other relationships are discussed.
Exploring the expression of social emotions in adults and young children
Robert Hepach & Antje von Suchodoletz (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the context of soliciting, maintaining, and repairing social relationships emotions are powerful commitment devices (Frank, 1986). Social emotions are functional and seen as adaptations that motivate us to behave in ways that help us solve challenges of adaptive importance (Campos, Campos, & Barrett, 1989; Keltner & Haidt, 1999; Nesse, 1990). Despite the significance of social emotions little is known about their non-verbal expression in early childhood in comparison to adulthood.
Here we explored variation in the postural expression of social emotions, such as pride and shame, as well as more basic emotions, such as joy and disappointment, in adults and compared it to previous work with young children. To this end we conducted a preregistered study with adult participants (n = 64) asking them to recall episodes of pride, shame, joy, and disappointment. We the asked participants to walk toward a Kinect camera while we recorded their upper-body postural elevation. Based on previous work with adults and young children, we expected positive emotions to result in an increase in upper-body posture and negative emotions to result in a decrease in postural elevation (Hepach, Vaish, & Tomasello, 2015, 2017). In addition, we asked participants to write down the specific emotion episode they recalled.
Results showed that adult’s postural elevation varied systematically with the specific emotion they recalled. Follow-up analyses show that the expressiveness of emotions was greater for social emotions than for basic emotions.
The present results shed new light on the postural expression of social emotions and provide a means to compare adult expressions to those in young children. The changes in upper-body posture we found in adults’ expression of pride are comparable to those observed in young children who helped others or achieved a goal themselves (Hepach et al., 2017). This provides an avenue for future research to investigate when in development children’s expressions of basic and social emotions mirrors that of adults (and the degree to which such expressions are culturally specific).
The Acceptance and Emotional Experience of Social Inequality: Age Differential Effects of Subjective Social Status
David Weiss & Ute Kunzmann | Leipzig University (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Economic inequality has been consistently rising in recent decades. This is a pressing issue as greater economic inequality within a society has detrimental consequences for well-being, social stability, productivity, and even life expectancy. One question is how people differ in their acceptance and their emotional experience of social inequality, and we predicted that individuals with a lower subjective social status would accept social inequality less and respond with greater negative emotions to social inequality than individuals with a relatively high subjective social status. Because status differences are more malleable in young adulthood (i.e., young adults can expect to move up the social ladder) and only manifest across adulthood, we predicted that the perceived standing in the social hierarchy should become increasingly influential as individuals age. In line with our hypotheses, a first study (N = 3362, 18-97 years) confirmed that people with a lower subjective social status are less accepting of social inequality than those with a higher social status. As predicted, this effect was qualified by age, such that subjective social status only had an effect on the acceptance of social inequality among middle-aged and older- but not younger adults. In a second, experimental study (N= 374; 18-83 years) we were able to demonstrate that when social inequality was made salient, young, middle-aged, and older adults experienced a decrease in positive emotions and an increase in negative emotions, particularly anger and fear. Consistent with our earlier findings, subjective social status moderated this effect only in middle-aged and older adults, but not younger adults. We discuss the dynamic nature of social status across the life span and the potential mechanisms underlying its age differential effects on emotional experiences.