I study inequality—how it influences behavior, shapes perceptions of people and society, and if/when it can be changed.

Psychologist Michael W. Kraus explores the emotional and hierarchical dynamics of human social interactions. His current research explores the behaviors and emotional states that maintain and perpetuate economic and social inequality in society.
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Latest Preprint from PsyArxiv

Social class predicts preference for competent politicians
Perceptions of interpersonal competence are an important predictor of success in the political domain. However, we argue—and provide evidence for—the proposition that competence is valued differently by voters across the social class spectrum. In two experiments (N1 = 441; N2 = 500), we show that higher social class individuals expressed a greater likelihood than their lower-class counterparts of voting for a candidate described as competent and were more likely to prefer such a candidate to one described as warm. In a third study, we analyze exit poll results of presidential primary elections to show that candidates perceived as competent performed better than those perceived as warm among relatively higher-class populations of voters whereas the opposite was true among relatively lower-class populations. We conclude that competence, in the political domain, is distinctively appealing to higher-class individuals and discuss implications for psychological theory as well as the political system in general.