340 Social Class & Emotions

Research by Piff, Paul K., & Moskowitz, Jake P. (2017).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

We often see individuals, belonging to the rich social class, having fun and expressing positive emotions on social media.  But is this real? Do rich class individuals, defined as those with more income, display more positive emotions than those from “other” or middle and working social classes?

University of California Researchers tested whether a relationship exists between individuals in a rich social class and positive emotions.  Positive emotions included: amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love and pride. Each of 1,519 participants provided their household income, which defined their membership in a rich or other social class. And, each completed multiple surveys about their social class and positive emotions.

Results? Rich class individuals were more concerned with self-oriented emotions such as pride and contentment. They also showed more amusement in their everyday lives. However, “other” class individuals reported more feelings of care for others such as love and compassion. Other class individuals also reported feeling more awe than rich class individuals. Enthusiasm was the only positive emotion that did not differ between social classes.

So, if you are not wealthy, it seems your joy is from sharing with others. Isn’t that pretty high class anyway?


Piff, P. K., & Moskowitz, J. P. (2017). Wealth, poverty, and happiness: Social class is differentially               associated with positive emotions. Emotions, 18(6), 902-905.

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