Income Inequality and How It Psychologically Affects People

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Income Inequality and How It Psychologically Affects People

Income inequality is an inevitable part of a person's life and it can affect also their behavior / Photo by: Hyejin Kang via Shutterstock


Not everyone is given equal opportunities or is part of the same socioeconomic class. Everyday people have to deal with inequalities and some people may find themselves in more unfortunate circumstances than others. The economic instability being experienced in today’s society causes social classes to form a greater divide between social classes, Exploring Your Mind states.

Inequalities in Circumstances

A person’s socioeconomic status has an effect on their perception of reality, their emotions and their behavior. For individuals who belong to a lower social class, they see situations as determined by external forces which they are unable to take charge of. As a result, this makes them deal with others more kindly and empathetically. They may do favors for people even if there is nothing in it for them.

The greatness of the contrast of the amount of money between the social classes predicts how unequal the economy will be in that society. In other words, the distance of the incomes of the poorest and richest within that community shows their inequality. For example, if the upper-class possess 30 times more money than the lower class in a community and in the other one, the rich has 5,000 times more money, this means that the previous community mentioned suffers from a more economic inequality.

In societies that have more economic inequality, individuals are noted to be more suspicious of each other, fight to be able to gain more economic resources and prefer to have those inequalities.

The socioeconomic status also makes the person differ their perception of reality / Photo by: FrameStockFootages via Shutterstock


Differences in Their Social Interaction

People are said to be brought up in a certain fixed economic class. A majority of people will keep stating in the same social class which they had been raised with. This leads them to create a way of behaving, thinking and feeling in a manner that is close to that of the people they are usually surrounded with. Simply put how a person interacts with others is also dependent on their social class.

Those who have grown as part of the lower class are exposed to places where nothing is constant, where they are weak often fear for their lives. This causes them to think that they cannot control their actions and the chances presented to them. They may have the belief that their fate is controlled by external forces.

Meanwhile, individuals who belong to the upper class live a more certain and stable life. They are able to have the luxury of living in environments where they can decide more freely and are safer from harm. They also have a higher social ranking. As a result, they tend to believe that they are able to manipulate the circumstances according to how they please. They are also more concerned about their reputation or how other people view them.

To compare, people who are poorer are better at empathizing with others while rich people are better at recognizing the emotions of the others they come in contact with. This means they are skilled at cognitive empathy. Psychology Today elaborates on this by saying, “... those in a high inequality condition, relative to those in a mild inequality condition, expressed less warmth and happiness while displaying greater dominance toward the other person.”

Unequal Distribution of Resources

The result of an uneven distribution of resources within a society is economic inequality. Lower class people’s difficulties are very noticeable. Some of the troubles they face may include having unexpected pregnancies, being affected by obesity, drug addiction, infant mortality, being affected by mental disorders and having more criminals present in their area.

Since individuals who belong to societies where the inequality is more obvious have the inclination to warier of each other, they may also act more rudely when dealing with other people. They may be hesitant in joining social activities. Those who reside in extremely unequal societies may also often face competition and may feel undervalued. People who have a low social status have a higher risk of suffering from anxiety. Some are able to counter this by raising their self-esteem in a positive manner.

According to the site Conversation, these conditions make the higher class act in a more selfish manner to be able to maintain their wealth. Studies also show that in this type of society, people have a higher possibility of being affected by depression and are prone to being less satisfied with their lifestyle. The residents of this unequal society may begin to have more affinity for increased inequality and may not care about the dangers this may pose.

In conclusion, being part of an equal society is ideal because social classes do not differ much from each other in this kind of society. Also, people are able to experience more advantages in such a society.

One of the consequences of income inequality is the high presence of crime in a community / Photo by: Burdun Iliya via Shutterstock