Within- and Between Group Processes in the Context of Social Inequality

Social inequality: A pressing social and political concern

Social inequality is a global phenomenon. Within the OECD countries, economic inequality is at the highest level within the last half century. Countries that used to be traditionally equal have become more unequal (e.g., Sweden, Denmark, Germany). National comparisons show that nations with more economic inequality show increased discrimination, poorer performance, and decreased well-being compared to nations with less inequality. In summary, social inequality that is based on economic resources is considered one of the major challenges of our time.

The research network

The present research network, funded by the German Research Foundation, aims to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between economic inequality and the detrimental correlates for people and societies as a whole. We investigate peoples’ perceptions of income inequality and the feelings, thoughts, and behavior that go along with perceived inequality. We aim towards a better understanding of why economic inequality goes along with these negative consequences and why despite its negative consequences economic inequality is increasing.

A social-psychological approach

We use a social-psychological approach to investigate the correlates of economic inequality (e.g., discrimination, poor performance, psychological well-being) and the processes involved in why economic inequality goes along with these negative consequences (e.g., social categorization, collective emotions, basic social motives). We implement a wide range of quantitative methods – from survey research to laboratory experiments and measurement of automatic processes to investigate social inequality.


The research network brings together junior and senior researchers to examine this important topic from different theoretical perspectives, including intergroup and motivated social cognition approaches. In addition to collaborating on research grant proposals and publications, we seek to establish a continuing research network that contributes to an overall understanding of the psychological antecedents and consequences of economic inequality and that catalyzes integrative theory development.