A recent study published by the American Psychological Association has revealed that people from higher social class often tend to believe that they are more adept than people from the lower-class. These group of people sees themselves as belonging to the upper class, which is termed by researchers as an exaggerated belief. Although their lower class counterparts are equally capable, the over the confidence of people belonging to this group is often misinterpreted as greater competence in situations like job interviews, etc.
“Advantages beget advantages. Those who are born in upper-class echelons are likely to remain in the upper class, and high-earning entrepreneurs disproportionately originate from highly educated, well-to-do families,” reported Peter Belmi, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia and lead author of the study. “Our research suggests that social class shapes the attitudes that people hold about their abilities and that, in turn, has important implications for how class hierarchies perpetuate from one generation to the next.”
Through their study, the team discovered a connection between social classes, the overconfidence of people from the higher social class group and how it might affect perceptions of a person’s competence. For the research, the team undertook four investigations. The largest investigation involved more than 150,000 small business owners in Mexico who were applying for loans. In order to obtain information on their social class, the researchers studied the applicant’s income, level of education and the perceived social status.
Moreover, the applicants went through a psychological assessment. A cognitive test which included a flashcard game was also part of the process. After completing twenty trials, the applicants were asked to rate their performances in comparison to others on a scale of 1 to 100. The research team concludes that people with more education, more income, and higher perceived social class were under an exaggerated belief that they perform better than others, in comparison to their lower-class counterparts.
This assessment was followed by a series of investigations including a group of undergraduate students. The results were the same, students from a higher social class were observed to be more overconfident. It was also concluded that such kind of overconfidence was misinterpreted as greater competence.
“Individuals with the relatively high social class were more overconfident, which in turn was associated with being perceived as more competent and ultimately more hirable, even though, on average, they were no better at the trivia test than their lower-class counterparts,” said Belmi.
The results of the research will be beneficial to study the persistent generation of long class-based hierarchies in society. The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.