Lacking socio‐economic status reduces subjective well‐being through perceptions of meta‐dehumanization

Mario Sainz Martínez, Rocío Martínez, Miguel Moya, Rosa Rodríguez‐Bailón, Jeroen Vaes

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has identified that both low- and high-socio-economic groups tend to be dehumanized. However, groups that have a deprived position are more willing to interiorize the negative perceptions that others have about them compared with affluent groups. In this project, we address the role of meta-(de)humanization (the perceived humanity one thinks is ascribed or denied to one’s group) based on socio-economic status differences and its influence in the perceived psychological well-being. We conducted two studies: In Study 1 (correlational, N = 990), we analysed the relationship between socio-economic status, meta-dehumanization, and well-being. Results indicated that lower socio-economic status positively predicted more meta-dehumanization and worse well-being. Moreover, meta-dehumanization mediated the relationship between socio-economic status and well-being. In Study 2 (experimental, N = 354), we manipulated socio-economic status (low-, middle-, and high-socio-economic status conditions) to evaluate its influence on meta-dehumanization and well-being. Results indicated that individuals of low (vs. higher)-socio-economic status perceived more meta-dehumanization and reported worse well-being. Finally, a multicategorical mediational analysis indicated that low (vs. middle or high)-socio-economic status led to worse well-being through higher perceived meta-dehumanization. We discuss differences in perceived meta-(de)humanization based on groups’ socio-economic status and implications on the population’s well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-489
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The British Psychological Society

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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