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Tall poppies” and “American dreams”: Reactions to rich and poor in Australia and the U.S.A

By Anesu N. Mandisodza, John T. Jost and Miguel M. Unzueta


A comparative study conducted in Australia and the United States examined people’s responses to protagonists who were either born rich or poor and who ended up either rich or poor as adults. Results reveal some cross-cultural similarities and some differences. Specifically, people in both countries perceive initially poor and subsequently rich individuals as more competent and likeable than initially rich and subsequently poor individuals, but these differences were greater in the American context than in the Australian context. In addition, being exposed to someone who was born rich (vs. born poor) led Americans to perceive the economic system as more fair and legitimate, but it led Australians to perceive the system as less fair and legitimate. Keywords: rich; poor; wealth; status; United States; Australia To a considerable extent, social and economic systems are maintained through culturally transmitted attitudes and beliefs that support them. Research on system justification demonstrates that stereotypes and other shared representations of individuals and groups are often linked to the belief that social and economic institutions are fair, legitimate, and justifiable (Jost & Banaji, 1994). Assumptions that “poor people are happy and honest ” or that “wome

Year: 2006
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