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Psychology of Inequality

Research theme

Our research examines the dynamics of inequality and combines an experimental focus on how context shapes decision-making

This research theme focuses on the psychological antecedents and consequences of inequality, fleshing out the ways in which societal change both reflects and shapes the individual citizen and their relationships with others.

Inequalities in living conditions and outcomes within nations and across the globe have a strong psychological dimension. Poverty shapes our cognition, emotion, and sociality in ways that matter for decision-making and wellbeing, while experiences of injustice and marginalisation have a corrosive impact on social cohesion, trust, and mental health. At the same time, our behavioural sensitivity to identity, ideology, and status sheds light on how we come to tolerate inequality in the first place, and the political possibilities to improve it.  

Researchers in this theme are leading voices in the field of social psychology, who also draw on theory and methods from community and cultural psychology, economics, sociology, and political science. Our research examines the dynamics of inequality as they play out in Global North and Global South settings, and combines an experimental focus on how context shapes decision-making, with a bottom-up, qualitative examination of experiences of exclusion in people’s own voices.

Research on the development of political attitudes uses longitudinal and cross-national surveys, combined with behavioural genetics analyses and pairing with national registry data, to examine how basic orientations toward the resolution of collective resource dilemmas are shaped by forces at the familial, social, and societal level, and influence political outcomes.

Cutting across this methodological diversity is a commitment to a ‘societal’ approach to psychology, wherein the social mind plays a key role at the root, and the resolution, of the most pressing issues of our time. 

Expertise and resources

Below you can find experts, research and media focussed on the role of current and future challenges regarding work, employment and organisations.

Experts

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Dr Lucia Garcia-Lorenzo

Associate Professor 

 

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Dr Ilka Gleibs

Associate Professor 

 

 

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Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Professor of Social Psychology

 

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Dr Celestin Okoroji

LSE Fellow

 

 

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Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Associate Professor

 

Selected publications

Frings, D., Gleibs, I. H., & Ridley, A. M. (2020). What moderates the attainment gap? The effects of social identity incompatibility and practical incompatibility on the performance of students who are or are not Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic. Social Psychology of Education, 23(1), 171-188. Access via LSE Research Online (PDF).

Garcia-Lorenzo, L., Sell-Trujillo, L., & Donnelly, P. (2018, July). Beyond the unemployment condition: Creative resilience tactics among the long term unemployed. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2018, No. 1, p. 14810). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management. Access via LSE Research Online here.

Jovchelovitch, Sandra and Priego-Hernandez, Jacqueline (2012) Underground sociabilities: identity, culture and resistance in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK. Access via LSE Research Online (PDF).

Kteily, N. S., Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Ho, A. K. (2017). Hierarchy in the eye of the beholder:(Anti-) egalitarianism shapes perceived levels of social inequality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(1), 136. Access here via LSE Research Online (PDF)

Okoroji, C., Gleibs, I. H., & Jovchelovitch, S. (2020). Elite stigmatization of the unemployed: The association between framing and public attitudes. British Journal of Psychology. Access on LSE Research Online here (PDF).

Sheehy-Skeffington, J. (2020). The effects of low socioeconomic status on decision-making processes. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, 183-188. Access on LSE Research Online here (PDF).

Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Rea, J. (2017). How poverty affects People's decision-making processes (pp. 1-73). York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Access the report on the Joesph Rowntree Foundation website.

Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Thomsen, L. (2020). Egalitarianism: psychological and socio-ecological foundations. Current Opinion in Psychology, 32, 146-152. Access on LSE Research Online (PDF).

Media


Jim Sidanius

The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality

March 2021

Speakers: Jim Sidanius (Harvard University) and Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (LSE).

Listen to the podcast recording of The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality via LSE Player.

Watch The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality via the LSE YouTube channel.