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Abstract

Though the scientific study of social class is over a century old, theories regarding how social class shapes psychological experience are in their infancy. In this review, we provide a road map for the empirical study of an emerging psychology of social class. Specifically, we outline key measurement issues in the study of social class – including the importance of both objective indicators and subjective perceptions of social class – as well as theoretical insights into the role of the social class context in influencing behavior. We then summarize why a psychology of social class is likely to be a fruitful area of research and propose that social class environments guide psychological experience because they shape fundamental aspects of the self and patterns of relating to others. Finally, we differentiate social class from other rank-relevant states (e.g., power) and social categories (e.g., race/ethnicity), while also outlining potential avenues of future research.