The richer the less supportive of redistribution?

1 Low redistributive bias and specific manifestations of people with high social class

Fairness is the basic value criterion of human society. Preventing excessive income disparity and achieving relative fairness in income distribution are the basic requirements of fairness value criterion, and it is also an important foundation for a country’s sustainable economic development and social stability. On August 17, 2021, the 10th meeting of the Central Finance and Economics Committee emphasized: “Intensify the adjustment and precision of taxation, social security, transfer payment, etc., expand the proportion of middle-income groups, increase the income of low-income groups, reasonably adjust high incomes, and ban Illegal income, forming an olive-shaped distribution structure in the middle and two small ones, promotes social fairness and justice, promotes the all-round development of people, and enables all people to make solid progress towards the goal of common prosperity.” important role of distribution. However, high-income groups do not necessarily support redistribution policies that regulate national income. From the tax cases that have been exposed in recent years, it is found that high-income earners will evade tax by changing the nature of their income, receiving part of their income on behalf of low-paid employees, deducting tax with fictitious invoices, and evading tax by directional dividends. The attitude and support of redistributive policies are the redistribution preference. At present, the level of social equity in my country is gradually improving, but economic inequality still exists, and there is even the risk of solidifying interests. Promoting the implementation of the redistributive policy will help to break through the barriers of solidified interests, enhance people’s sense of happiness, and maintain and promote social fairness and stability. However, as mentioned above, people in the upper class who have more resources in society tend to show a lower redistribution bias, which will undoubtedly hinder the implementation of redistribution policies and the better realization of social equity.

In recent years, the gap between the rich and the poor in my country’s society has widened, economic inequality has continued to rise, and the Gini coefficient has continued to be high. Serious economic inequality will damage individual health and well-being at the micro level, hinder class mobility at the macro level, and pose a threat to social equity and stability. Redistributive policies, represented by taxes and social transfers, play an important role in mitigating rising economic inequality. The formulation and effective implementation of redistributive policies are inseparable from the support of all social strata, but research from different disciplines shows that people from high strata tend to show lower redistributive bias than those from low strata. Based on the World Values ​​Survey database, some researchers examined the class differences in redistributive bias in 24 countries in Western Europe, North America, and East Asia, and found that compared with ordinary workers, those with higher socioeconomic status, such as professional technicians and professional managers, were less likely to believe that Governments are responsible for income inequality and require policy intervention. Based on the analysis of data from the China General Social Survey in 2006 and 2015, some researchers found that the education level, subjective social class, and relative economic status of the respondents all significantly negatively predicted their redistribution bias. In addition, other researchers have examined the causal relationship between social class and redistributive bias through experimental methods, and have also reached consistent conclusions. For example, the researchers designed a stock market game. According to the random allocation of investment returns (the participants did not know that the allocation method was random), the participants were assigned to three conditions: high status, low status and control group. Next, they were asked to make recommendations for the game’s redistribution rules after the change. Results showed that participants randomly assigned to the high-status condition suggested a lower proportion of the game’s reward redistribution compared to participants in the low-status condition and the control condition. Another researcher conducted a field study in a commercial pedestrian street near a wealthy white neighborhood in Boston, USA. The “petitioners” in the study were played by trained Hispanic whites and African-American blacks. Dress up as rich and poor. Random petitions were made to passersby to support a tax on millionaires and a reduction in the use of plastic bags. The study found that more wealthy people would not support a tax on millionaires when confronted with poor white “petitioners” than when confronted with wealthy “petitioners.” This effect did not exist when faced with a petition to reduce the use of plastic bags. This suggests that the rich do have a lower redistributive bias. To sum up, higher-class people tend to be less supportive of redistributive policies than lower-class people.

So, how to understand the low redistributive bias shown by the upper class? What is its internal mechanism of action? Under the current background of expanding economic inequality, how to effectively intervene in the redistribution bias of the high-class people, promote social fairness and justice, and improve the well-being of the low-class people? Based on the perspective of social psychology, this paper will systematically discuss the psychological mechanism of people with low redistribution bias in high social class, and provide a scientific basis for related social governance work.

2 Why do people with higher social class not support redistribution?

Why are higher-class people less supportive of redistribution than lower-class people? Research from social class psychology shows that factors such as growth environment and family background have a “deep-rooted” influence on people, and they have a deep “class imprint” on people’s psychology and behavior, which in turn makes people show redistribution policies. different biases. Based on the existing literature, the researchers mainly constructed the psychological mechanism that high-class people do not support redistribution from three aspects: motivation, cognition, and emotion (see Figure 1). This paper argues that the psychological and behavioral patterns of high-class people towards redistributive policies will further maintain their dominant position in society.

Figure 1 The mechanism and intervention model of the low redistributive bias for people with high social class

2.1 Motivational factors

2.1.1 Economic self-interest

From the perspective of benefits and costs, redistributive policies usually shift the economic and social resources of the upper class to the lower class. In this sense, redistributive policies are contrary to the interests of the upper classes. Therefore, the disapproval of redistributive policies by those in the upper classes may stem from economic self-interest motives in the first place. Specifically, the economic self-interest of the upper class will lead to less support for redistributive policies, whether it is taking more money from themselves (such as a progressive tax system) or giving more money to the poor (such as social welfare) policy). The researchers surveyed 6,024 subjects from the United States, India, the United Kingdom and Israel and found that people with higher levels of economic self-interest were less likely to support more taxes on the rich and economic relief for the poor. Another researcher used the European Social Survey (European Social Survey) and the Eurostat (Eurostat) database to include data from 22 European countries from 2008 to 2014 for analysis, and found that compared with the unemployed, people with stable occupations are less supportive. The government takes steps to change the income gap. Other researchers have obtained similar results through experimental studies. They created a production and redistribution system in an experimental situation. The results found that subjects who received high income during the production stage were less likely to support high tax rates. To sum up, out of the motivation of economic self-interest, when faced with redistribution that is contrary to their own economic interests, high-class people tend to hold a negative attitude.

2.1.2 System Reasonable Beliefs

For the high-class people, “everything that is realistic is rational”, and they often think it is reasonable for the status quo in which they are in an economically advantageous position, and redistribution means doing something about the “reasonable” status quo. out change. Therefore, the disapproval of redistributive policies by those in the upper classes may be motivated by the maintenance of the status quo, which the researchers call system rational beliefs. Research shows that people with high beliefs about systemic rationality are more tolerant of economic inequality and opposed to redistributive policies that alter the status quo. For example, the researchers extracted the social inequality module data (N = 56021) in the database of the International Social Survey Project including 41 different countries and regions, and found that the more people who believe that the status quo is reasonable, the more they disagree with the government’s efforts to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Responsibility, the less support for more taxes on the rich. Another researcher designed a stock market game based on the behavioral economics research paradigm. After making investment decisions, all participants were randomly assigned to high and low status groups. All participants were then asked to suggest changes to the game’s redistribution rules going forward. The results show that compared with low-status persons, high-status persons are more inclined to believe that the inequality in the game and the game procedure are reasonable, and the high proportion of redistribution is unjust, and they are even less inclined to increase the redistribution rate. To sum up, people in the upper classes may hold a higher systematic rational belief that the social status quo with the gap between the rich and the poor is reasonable, which in turn leads them to be reluctant to support redistribution policies that change the status quo and benefit the disadvantaged.

2.2 Cognitive factors

2.2.1 Perception of Economic Inequality

Although many studies show that the current level of socioeconomic inequality has reached historically rare levels, there does not seem to be much dissatisfaction with this. The reason may be that people tend to underestimate economic inequality, believe that society is relatively equal, and therefore adopt a negative attitude towards redistributive policies that narrow the income gap. The researchers found through questionnaires that Americans generally underestimate socioeconomic inequality. On the one hand, current racial economic inequality in the United States is generally underestimated by both high- and low-income, white and black; on the other hand, compared with low-income white Americans and all black Americans, high-income White Americans significantly underestimate economic inequality between races. Other researchers have used big data analysis to find evidence that people underestimate economic inequality. Some researchers have analyzed the perceptions of economic inequality among respondents in 40 countries including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and China, based on the International Social Survey Project and the Standardized World Income Inequality Database, using the actual and estimated Gini coefficients. A comparative analysis shows that people generally underestimate the level of economic inequality in their own society, which is significantly related to their lower redistribution needs, that is, they do not think the government is responsible for reducing socioeconomic inequality. Based on the above analysis, compared with actual economic inequality, the underestimation of economic inequality by the upper class may be an important factor affecting their redistribution bias.

2.2.2 Attribution of wealth gap

Compared with the low-class people, the high-class people hold more ideologies of merit in personal, economic and social aspects, the most typical of which is their internal attribution tendency towards the gap between the rich and the poor. Compared with low-class people, high-class people are more likely to attribute the gap between rich and poor to individual factors such as effort, ability, and ambition, rather than external factors such as family background, luck, and opportunity. This inclination of attribution within the wealth gap makes people believe that poverty is the result of individual factors, and therefore does not support the improvement of inequality through external forces such as social welfare. Bai Jie et al. verified the causal relationship between social class, attribution of wealth gap and redistribution bias through experiments. By manipulating the subjective social class of the subjects, they found that the subjects with higher subjective class were more inclined to make internal attributions of the wealth gap, which made them less supportive of taking money from the winner in the subsequent third-party dictator game Subsidize losers. Therefore, the objective social gap between the rich and the poor is more likely to be shaped by external factors such as uneven distribution of resources, family background, educational opportunities, etc., and the attribution of the gap between the rich and the poor reflects people’s subjective construction of the gap between the rich and the poor, and there may be objective reasons for it gap. People in the upper class tend to make internal attributions to the conditions of different classes, which makes them even less supportive of changing the wealth gap between classes through external means such as redistribution.

2.2.3 Stereotypes

Those in the upper class are often seen as hardworking and competent, while those in the lower class are judged as unmotivated and low-ability. This negative stereotype of the lower class will activate the emotional prejudice and discriminatory tendency of the upper class towards them, which in turn makes them less supportive of redistributive policies that help the lower class. An experimental study conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada showed that people have more prejudice against minorities such as blacks and Asians, which in turn makes them less supportive of welfare policies that pay cash to minorities. The study found that people tended to associate black faces with the concept of poverty, and this negative stereotype led people to oppose tax policies that helped black groups. The researchers manipulated subjects’ negative stereotypes of low-class people and found that, even in the face of imaginary low-class groups, when the group was judged as irrational and illiterate, the subjects were even less supportive of the government granting the Group financial aid. Studies have also found that people who have become poor due to economic downturns are more likely to be labelled as less hardworking and less motivated than those born poor, and thus receive less sympathy and social support. Based on the above analysis, the reason why high-class people are reluctant to support redistribution policies that benefit low-class people in disadvantaged positions may be due to their negative stereotypes about low-class people.

2.3 Emotional factors

2.3.1 Compassion

Differences in people’s emotional-emotional systems often play a decisive role in their social judgments and behaviors. From this perspective, compassion provides a possible explanation for understanding the lower redistributive bias of high-class people. The strength of compassion can significantly predict people’s willingness and behavior to help others, compared with low-class people. , high-class people have lower levels of empathy and are less sensitive to the suffering of others. Some previous studies have examined class differences in empathy using techniques such as eye tracking and fMRI. The results showed that high-class people looked at others for less time in interpersonal interactions; brain regions associated with empathy were less activated when viewing pictures of others in difficult situations. The researchers used electrophysiological sampling to study and found that higher-class people showed lower empathy than lower-class people. The lower sympathy of the upper class will increase their hostility and blame for the disadvantaged, thereby weakening their sense of responsibility and motivation to help the disadvantaged, so they will have a negative attitude towards redistribution. In conclusion, social class is a multifaceted construct that affects how people pay attention to others and how they respond to their pain and needs, and the weaker empathy of those in the upper class for disadvantaged groups may be the reason why they are less supportive of redistributive policies .

2.3.2 Status Anxiety

From the perspective of social equity, the redistribution of social and economic resources is to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. For those in the upper class, this means the loss of the economic dominance of the individual and the group to which they belong in the social stratification system. Thus, the disapproval of redistributive policies among the upper classes may be influenced by status anxiety. Specifically, when the high-status people in the group feel threatened by the loss of their interests and worry about losing their dominant position in the future, they will increase their prejudice and hostility towards the out-group for the sake of safeguarding their own and in-group interests. For example, some studies have found that when high-class people perceive a higher level of status anxiety, they will show more prejudice cognition to low-class people, and then be more opposed to immigration. It can be seen that status anxiety can explain the lower redistribution bias of high-class people. Other studies have more intuitively revealed through ingenious experiments that when highlighting or reminding class identities, in order to maintain their economic and resource advantages, high-class people will display hostile behaviors, such as supporting aggravation of lower class in the criminal justice system. Punishment of perpetrators, opposition to redistributive policies, obstruction of government funding programs for the poor, etc. Therefore, the reason why the upper class does not support redistributive policies may stem from status anxiety.

3 How to increase the redistributive bias of high social class?

Adopting strong redistributive policies is crucial to narrowing the widening gap between the rich and the poor and promoting social equity and justice. While exploring the influence mechanism of social class on redistributive bias, the researchers also explored the intervention methods to enhance the redistributive bias of high-class individuals. Summarizing these studies, it is found that improving humility and empathy at the individual level, changing negative stereotypes and changing perceptions of economic inequality at the intergroup level, and changing class and cultural values ​​at the societal level can all contribute to improving rebirth. allocation dilemma.

3.1 Cultivate humility

From an individual point of view, compared with those in the lower class, those in the upper class occupy more social resources and are subject to relatively few social restrictions, which constitute the main content of their life situation, and in the long run, a solipsism is formed. Social Cognitive Tendency. Individuals with a humility mentality tend to have accurate self-views, know their own shortcomings and are willing to be taught; show humility in interpersonal attitudes or behaviors, and care about the well-being of others. Therefore, cultivating the humility of the upper class will help to weaken the arrogance of the elite and enhance its redistributive bias. Research has shown that there is a significant positive correlation between humility and egalitarian tendencies. For example, a survey study found that the higher the individual’s level of humility, the lower the social dominance tendency and right-wing authoritarianism. In other words, the humble person has a higher level of egalitarian tendency, and egalitarian tendency negatively predicts economic inequality perception, This in turn affects its redistribution bias. In addition, Bai Jie et al. took high-class college students as the research objects in their research, and told them that they would complete a psychological knowledge test with their peers (fictitious), making them think that they were paid more than their peers, so as to start its high status identity. Then start the humility mentality by watching the video. The results showed that compared with the control group, the initiation of the humility mentality reduced the attribution tendency within the wealth gap of the high-class people, which in turn led to a higher redistribution bias of the high-class people. It can be seen from this that the reason why humility can interfere with the redistribution bias of the high-class people may be that, on the one hand, the humility mentality enhances the egalitarian tendencies of the high-class people and weakens their recognition of economic inequality; It is the humility mentality that reduces the attribution tendency of the high-class people within the wealth gap and changes their views on the reasons for the wealth gap. Thus, cultivating a humility mentality may lead those at the top to support redistributive policies that benefit the disadvantaged.

3.2 Conduct anti-stereotype interventions

At the intergroup level, low-class groups are often labeled with stigma such as low ability, lack of self-motivation, and lack of vision, so that high-class people do not support redistributive policies that benefit low-class groups. Therefore, anti-stereotype interventions aimed at eliminating negative stereotypes about lower-class groups can help increase the redistributive biases of higher-class people. Using a longitudinal tracking study, the researchers designed a two-week intervention training to conduct anti-stereotype interventions by teaching non-black students about implicit bias and its effects, coping strategies for implicit bias, etc. train. It found that after two years, participants who received the intervention were more likely to object to articles that supported racial stereotypes in public online forums, compared to the control group. Other studies have further explored the effects of anti-stereotype interventions on redistributive bias. They asked subjects to list the similarities and differences between black and white images presented at the same time, and found that those who were asked to list the same were more supportive of the government’s taxation of the rich and spending on training programs to help the poor improve their survival skills. To sum up, whether it is anti-stereotype intervention training or similarity-focused intervention, high-class groups may change their views on the reasons for the disadvantaged situation of low-class groups, and reduce their perception of the disadvantaged groups’ ability, effort and other trait factors. biases, which in turn alter their perceptions of attribution of the wealth gap, ultimately affecting their redistributive bias. The study also found that an anti-stereotype intervention that asked subjects to list similarity information would make high-class individuals pay more attention to the similarity of others in personality traits (such as effort level, ability, etc.), thereby showing lower beliefs about a just world. , distributive fairness perception, and then make them show higher redistribution bias.

3.3 Exploiting inequality framing effects

For high-class groups, different ways of describing the objective gap between rich and poor may affect their redistributive bias. We call this the “inequality framing effect”, which refers to the phenomenon that people’s willingness to redistribute is changed by the way in which information is presented in their decision-making. Research shows that higher class people exhibit higher redistributive biases when economic inequality is described as “more rich than poor” compared to when economic inequality is described as “less poor than rich” , although the message content conveyed by the two representations is exactly the same. A study that described inequality in a fictional company to white subjects found that when inequality was described as “whites have an advantage”, compared with when inequality was described as “whites have an advantage” White subjects of status were more likely to support reform policies that benefited black groups. The above studies have explored the role of inequality framing on the redistributive bias of dominant groups at the group level, and another study has examined the performance of this effect at the individual level. White subjects supported financial compensation for disadvantaged groups when inequity was described as disadvantaged by disadvantaged individuals (i.e., a black individual) compared to when inequity was described as disadvantaged. How, then, is the moderating role of the inequality framework to be understood? On the one hand, higher class people may show lower attributions when inequality is described as “rich have more” than when inequality is described as “poor have less” On the other hand, the reason why the redistributive bias of high-class people is affected by the inequality framework may also be the effect of group self-esteem, that is The perception that the ingroup is dominant threatens the ingroup self-esteem of members of the dominant group, which in turn increases their support for redistributive policies that undermine their group dominance.

3.4 Improve empathy

As mentioned above, the strength of compassion can significantly predict people’s willingness and behavior to help others, and there are significant class differences in compassion. Numerous studies have shown that empathy training can effectively improve an individual’s level of empathy for others. A recent study examining the effects of a meditation-based psychological intervention on attention, emotion, and perspective taking found that compassion training significantly enhanced an individual’s level of empathy, and participants who underwent compassion training perceived higher levels of caring, A feeling of warmth and kindness. A meta-analysis examining the effects of meditation training on empathy and prosocial behavior in 26 studies (N = 1714) showed that meditation had moderate effects on prosocial emotions and behaviors observed in self-report and behavioral experiments. effect. The reason why mental training based on meditation, behavioral exercises, etc. can effectively improve an individual’s level of empathy may be due to the fact that these training can stimulate the physiological mechanism that promotes empathy. Another researcher designed an implicit compassion promotion task based on associative learning, and tested the prosocial effect and neurobiological mechanism of the task through experimental research. The results found that compared with the control group, the participants in the empathy intervention group showed less empathy pain, that is, they were more able to endure the pain caused by the emotional resonance of others; in the face of video footage of others suffering, their medial orbital The frontal cortex was more active; increased functional connectivity between the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the inferior parietal cortex explained the increase in individuals’ intention to help. Other studies have provided relatively direct evidence that empathy training may improve empathy levels of high-class individuals, thereby promoting redistributive bias. The researchers designed a two-week short-term compassion training program to assess participants’ altruistic behavior through redistribution games (redistribution of income to victims of injustice) and used pre- and post-training fMRI scans to explore how compassion training promotes. Neurobiological mechanisms underlying redistribution behavior. The results showed that: (1) compared with the control group, participants in the empathy training group showed a stronger redistribution bias, and were willing to spend more money from their own wallets for redistribution to victims; (2) in the Among participants in the empathy training group, higher activation of the inferior parietal cortex and stronger connectivity of the dorsal prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens predicted higher amounts of money spent in the redistribution game. In conclusion, empathy training can effectively improve people’s empathy, which is related to the activation of medial orbitofrontal cortex and inferior parietal cortex, as well as the functional connectivity of dorsal prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens, medial orbitofrontal cortex and inferior parietal cortex. Activation of related physiological mechanisms by empathy training predicts lower empathic distress and higher levels of redistribution bias.

3.5 Changing class cultural values

Research in cultural psychology shows that the experience of living together creates a group norm and values ​​that guide the behavior of members of that group. Similarly, from a sociocultural perspective, a social stratum is a social background and cultural form shared by individuals of the same social stratum and shapes a class-specific value system and behavior within a certain stratum. Different social class environments provide different resources and social conditions, which in turn shape the cultures and norms of different classes. For example, compared with the lower class, the social culture and behavioral norms shaped by the environment in which the upper class live encourages them to express political views and participate in political activities, and they are more willing to speak up and act for themselves on the issue of redistribution. In addition, there are large differences in moral values ​​and interpersonal orientations between high- and low-class people. High-class people tend to develop an external, other-oriented focus on interpersonal relationships, while low-class people tend to develop an internal interpersonal focus. a self-oriented focus on interpersonal relationships. This difference in interpersonal orientation can be reflected in their cognition and emotion, such as the degree of gaze and empathy, on the one hand, and in behavior, such as prosocial behavior and immorality, on the other hand. behavior, etc. That is, culture related to socioeconomic status may lead to different idiosyncratic and situational mental states and behavioral patterns of individuals, which may influence their redistributive biases. Specifically, on the one hand, high-class people will increasingly think that low-class people are not worthy of help, ignore their interpersonal responsibilities to others, and are precarious in the possession and accumulation of their own resources; on the other hand, compared with low-class people, Those in the upper classes are more likely to have a voice and influence on redistributive policies that involve their own interests. Therefore, an equal and just social culture should be advocated in the whole society, the arrogance in the cultural value orientation of the high class should be changed, and the redistribution bias of the high class should be promoted.

4 Summary and Outlook

Based on the perspective of social psychology, this paper sorts out the relationship between social class and redistributive bias. A large body of research evidence shows that social class negatively predicts redistribution bias, that is, the higher the social class, the less support for redistribution. This will hinder the promotion and implementation of redistributive policies and threaten social fairness and stability. On the basis of previous research, this paper proposes the mechanism and intervention model of the low redistribution bias of high social class people, and expounds the psychological mechanism behind this phenomenon. According to this model, class differences in motivation, cognition, and emotion shape the lower redistribution biases of those in the upper class. In addition, cultivating humility, anti-stereotype interventions, exploiting inequality framing effects, increasing empathy, and changing class cultural values ​​can help to increase high-class redistributive bias. Although this paper focuses on the low redistribution bias of high strata and its psychological mechanism, based on the theoretical model proposed in this paper, there are still several issues worthy of further discussion on the relationship between stratum and redistribution bias.

First, this paper focuses on the negative relationship between social class and redistributive bias and its impact mechanism. However, some studies have also found some counterintuitive phenomena worthy of future researchers’ attention. One is that high-class people also show behaviors that support redistribution. The emergence of this phenomenon may be influenced by risk aversion, inequality aversion and altruism. (1) As far as risk aversion is concerned, from the perspective of social contract, people’s redistribution preference reflects the preference of risk averse people for social security, that is, people are willing to give up part of their rights and interests in exchange for more certainty Assure. The first is the risk of future uncertainty. Redistribution policies can provide a buffer against future income uncertainty, enabling them to obtain minimum living guarantees during economic downturns. Research shows that people with high uncertainty about the future have a strong risk aversion tendency, which makes them more supportive of income redistribution than people with downward mobility expectations about the future. Secondly, the negative externality of economic inequality can also stimulate people’s risk aversion tendency, which in turn affects their redistributive bias. Specifically, to a certain extent, economic inequality has a positive externality that provides an incentive effect that increases the overall “pie” of income distribution. At the same time, the negative externalities caused by economic inequality, such as the increase in violent crime rate and murder rate, may also enhance the risk aversion tendency of high-class people, making them support redistributive policies to a certain extent to maintain social stability and reduce Risk of infringement of own rights. Therefore, the upper class may also support redistribution out of risk aversion to the negative externalities of future uncertainty and economic inequality. (2) As far as inequality aversion is concerned, Confucius has a saying: “If you hear that you have a state and a family, you don’t suffer from widowhood, but you suffer from inequality.” According to the theory of inequality aversion, when an individual’s income is higher than others’ income, there will be an advantage. inequality aversion; and inequality aversion at a disadvantage occurs when an individual’s income is lower than that of others. Yang Xiaolan and Zhou Ye’an’s research designed an experimental scenario in which the initial distribution was unequal and the subjects were asked to vote on the redistribution tax rate. The results found that more than half of the high-income subjects chose a non-zero tax rate that reduced their own income, which increased the rate of other social income. member’s income. And this dislike of inequality actually reflects the subjective ethical judgment of the individual. Wang Yilin and Zhang Ning investigated the effect of inequality aversion on income redistribution from the perspective of responsibility through an experimental method, and found that inequality aversion positively predicted support for redistribution when the initial distribution outcome depended on one’s origin. Some people have used laboratory experiments to study whether voters’ social preferences increase the likelihood of social reform implementation, and found similar conclusions. The preference for inequality aversion makes subjects likely to reject reforms that are beneficial to them. From this point of view, the upper class will also support redistribution, probably out of disgust for the inequality in which they have an advantage. (3) As far as altruism is concerned, altruism refers to the belief that individuals believe that they should help others to seek benefits by sacrificing their own interests when others are in need. The empathy-altruism hypothesis holds that altruistic behaviors in some situations (such as charitable behaviors of helping those in distress, etc.) will not make individuals receive external rewards, but they can satisfy the individual’s internal psychological needs, such as avoiding other people’s altruistic behaviors. The pressure of public opinion, the loss of prestige and the condemnation of moral conscience. This is an important reason why the altruistic behavior of “harming oneself and benefiting others” can be preserved in evolution. The researchers analyzed the interviews and video materials of 66 philanthropists and the exclusive interview media reports of 87 celebrity philanthropists and found that actively taking social responsibility, improving individual welfare, love and kindness instincts and needs are important factors that constitute other altruistic motives. content. There is also an experimental study of the role of reciprocity in tax compliance behavior by researchers who found that faced with an unequal tax system in their favour (i.e. enjoying the lowest tax rate), compared with a control group facing a higher tax rate,” Taxpayers” reported higher amounts when reporting income, showing support for redistribution. In the long run, this favorable tax rate inequality may lead the tax authorities to collect more taxes. Therefore, the high redistribution bias shown by some high-class people may be due to the role of altruistic motives.

The second is that the lower class may also not support redistributive policies. Generally speaking, compared with high-class people, low-class people have less social resources, have more limited educational opportunities and low-value social network, and thus support their own redistribution bias more. But empirical research suggests that lower-class people also seem to resist redistribution. The emergence of this phenomenon may be influenced by subjective identity bias, social mobility expectations, system rationalization, and welfare stigma. (1) As far as class identity bias is concerned, if lower class people overestimate their class status, they will have a lower redistribution bias out of self-interest motives. Based on the combined data of China General Social Survey (CGSS) and China Social Situation Survey (CSS) from 2003 to 2012, the researchers compared subjective social status with objective class status generated by latent class analysis and found that more than half of Chinese Rural residents overestimate their social class status. Further research found that an upward bias in class identity leads to less support for higher taxes on the wealthy to reduce income inequality.最近的一项研究也发现,人们的主观收入是正态分布的,即大多数人(包括低收入者)认为自己的收入处于中间阶级,而这一有偏差的阶层认同降低了他们对减少收入不平等政策的投票支持行为。 (2)就社会流动预期而言,依据“POUM”假说(property of upward mobility hypothesis):当假设再分配政策会延续到下一代时,处于弱势地位的穷人如果预期未来自己能够向上流动到更高的社会等级,他们会为了保护未来自我的利益而反对再分配政策。有研究利用中国综合社会调查2010年的数据进行分析,考察了中国居民的收入水平和流动性对再分配偏向的影响,结果发现,不仅是过去的流动性经历会对中国居民的再分配偏向产生影响,对社会流动性的预期也会显负向预测人们的再分配偏向,即具有向上流动性预期的低收入等级居民具有更为微弱的再分配偏好。 (3)就系统合理化而言,社会阶层地位塑造了证明、合理化和维持当前阶层结构的价值观念和意识形态,并且这种合理化不需要经过深思熟虑的推理。虽然人们可能会进行有意识的推理来使他们的选择合理化,但经典的认知失调研究和自我知觉研究的证据表明,当人们改变态度时,他们往往认为这是自己原本就持有的态度,而非是后来形成的。从这一角度出发能够说明为何低阶层者也会反对改善其自身境地的收入再分配政策,有人在南非针对低收入黑人女工的研究发现他们非但不认为自己的工资过低,反而认为自己是幸运的,能够与雇主建立互惠关系。系统合理化理论为我们理解低地位群体的低再分配偏向提供了一个解释框架,即将现状视为合理的系统合理化倾向使部分低地位者表现出反对有利于改善其自身境地的收入再分配政策。 (4)就福利污名而言,从社会政策研究与福利效应评估的“文化结果”视角出发,对接受福利者的污名可能使低阶层者不愿意“沦为”依赖政府福利政策的人,以使自己与那些接受再分配政策帮助的人群区分开来,因此拒绝接受有利于改善自身经济状况的收入再分配政策。研究者通过中国家庭追踪调查数据,构建福利污名效应分析发现,农村低保福利制度存在一定的“福利污名”效应。另有研究者使用中国社会状况综合调查(CSS)2015年的数据对社会救助项目的污名化感知进行研究发现,受助对象所感受到的福利污名会降低其对低保制度的利用。总体上,高阶层者具有较低的再分配偏向,但主流现象之外的反直觉现象,如高阶层者可能具有较高的再分配偏向,低阶层者也可能拒绝再分配等现象也值得研究者们加以探究。

第二,深入考察社会阶层影响再分配偏向的中介机制。该模型从认知、动机、情感三类因素出发对社会阶层和再分配偏向的关系背后的心理机制进行了阐述,但不可否认的是这一模型尚待完善,动机、认知、情感各维度之间的互动关系仍需澄清和考察。这些因素并非总是孤立地发挥作用,而是会通过相互强化、相互影响共同发挥作用。就认知因素中的经济不平等感知而言,其作用的发挥可能受到动机因素的影响。研究发现,在那些低系统合理信念的人当中,收入差距的感知与再分配偏向(如对累进税的支持)正相关,而在那些支持系统合理信念的人当中则不存在显著相关。此外,同情心和刻板印象也可能共同作用于社会阶层和再分配偏向的关系。一方面,研究表明,同情心会放大那些弱势者的相似感,这表明对那些遭受痛苦或需要帮助者的同情心可能使高阶层者将其纳入内群体,进而可能抑制甚至改变他们对弱势群体的消极刻板印象。另一方面,高社会阶层者由于较少地同情他人,会削弱他们帮助处于不利地位的个体的责任感和愿望,这也可能是由于缺乏同情心所放大的相似感,巩固了对低阶层群体的消极刻板印象,进而导致了其较低的再分配偏向。这些问题还有待进一步研究以廓清变量间关系。除前文中提出的三类因素,在个体和社会层面,还有一些因素值得关注。首先,在个体层面,如心理权利感,这是一种普遍而稳定的感觉,会使人认为自己有权利比别人得到更多与低阶层者相比,高阶层者作为社会等级结构中占优势地位的一类人,往往具有更强的心理权利感。一项调查研究发现高经济不平等塑造了高收入个体的心理权利感,而这会降低他们的慷慨程度。但由于以往研究并未直接对权利感在社会阶层和再分配偏向关系中的作用进行检验,故未纳入本文所提出模型中,有待今后研究对其作用进行验证。其次,于社会层面而言,在经济不平等成为不同国家和地区普遍现象的今天,社会层面的文化差异作为重要的背景性因素对再分配偏向的影响也不容忽视。如一项基于标准化的世界收入不平等数据库(SWIID)的数据分析发现,在家庭联系松散、个人主义盛行、高社会信任和高包容性,以及对权利地位不平等反感的国家里,往往会有更完善的福利制度。但也有研究表明,文化价值观对再分配偏向的影响被夸大了,如在之前的一项研究中,美国人和挪威人在福利政策支持方面的文化差异,仅通过标准化不同群体关于接受者应得的信息就被消除了,因此,文化因素在阶层和再分配偏向关系中的作用也有待进一步探究。

第三,深入考察不同干预策略的作用机制,除了前文所提出的五种干预策略,我们认为未来的研究还应当对以下几点问题进行探究。一是本文阐述的不平等框架效应、谦卑心态的干预作用均是在实验室情境下进行验证的,反刻板印象的干预作用也是由在小范围内开展的纵向研究所证实的,其研究结论不一定能推广到复杂的社会情境中去,而阶层文化价值观的改变更不是一朝一夕能够达成,本文也仅是在理论上提出了借此促进高阶层者再分配偏向的可能性。因此,在未来的研究中可以考虑实验室实验与现场实验相结合、横向研究与纵向研究相结合,更全面严谨地考察、验证已有干预策略的有效性。二是对分配原则的偏好也可能是社会阶层和再分配偏向关系的边界条件之一。就分配原则本身而言,不同的社会阶层对决定再分配的原则可能具有不同的偏好,如前所述,相较于低阶层者,具有高收入、高受教育程度和稳定工作的人群,会更加偏好基于公平的再分配。但也有研究发现,面对不同的社会情境,人们所偏好的分配原则及对再分配的态度也会有所差别。如研究者利用2008年欧洲社会调查发现数据库进行分析发现,在养老金再分配问题上人们同时偏好公平原则和平等原则,但在失业福利再分配问题上却更偏好平等原则,因此,要厘清阶层和再分配偏向的关系,不同社会阶层对公平原则的偏好问题以及公平原则在再分配偏向问题上的情境适用性也值得研究者们关注。三是探索如何提高全社会对经济不平等的消极社会影响的认识。收入不平等不仅会对低收入群体造成伤害,也会对人口健康和社会福祉等公共利益产生负面影响。同时,着力改变将经济不平等仅仅作为个人层面问题的个人主义话语,强调将不平等的改善作为全社会各阶层共同的责任,而不仅仅是政府和处于泥淖中的低阶层者的责任,可能有助于增加对累进税等减少收入和财富差距的政策的支持。

曾昭携, 白洁, 郭永玉, 张跃, 顾玉婷. (2022). 越富有越不支持再分配?——社会阶层与再分配偏向的关系及其心理机制. 心理科学进展, 30(6), 1336-1349.

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