Social class, culture, and cognition

Igor Grossmann, Michael E.W. Varnum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


There are competing accounts of the relationship among social class, culture, and cognition. An interactive hypothesis suggests the relationship between social class and cognitive tendencies varies inasmuch as societies differ in their endorsement of those cognitive tendencies. An alternative additive hypothesis suggests that class-related environments promote differences in cognition. The authors addressed the validity of these accounts by simultaneously examining the effects of class among Americans (an independent society) and Russians (an interdependent society). Consistent with the additive hypothesis, lower social class was associated with more holistic cognition and more interdependent self-views in both countries. In Study 1, people from lower social class backgrounds and Russians displayed less dispositional bias. In Study 2, people from lower social class backgrounds and Russians demonstrated more contextual attention, more nonlinear reasoning about change, and more interdependent self-views (less self-inflation). Furthermore, in Study 2 differences in self-views mediated country and class effects on cognitive tendencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Culture
  • Independence
  • Interdependence
  • Social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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