n this research, we contribute to a nascent literature examining how cues to social class can guide voters' political judgments. Drawing upon and merging a voting-cues framework with the stereotype-content model, we test predictions that, relative to those from high-class backgrounds, candidates from lower- and working-class backgrounds will be perceived to be more ideologically liberal, warmer, and will be evaluated more positively. We test these predictions across four experimental studies (NStudy1 = 200; NStudy2 = 537; NStudy3 = 352; NStudy4 = 654) employing a candidate-evaluation paradigm; participants were presented with basic candidate background information, including cues to candidate class and other demographics, and were asked to read an excerpt from a speech before providing their judgments. Findings reveal that candidates from lower- and working-class backgrounds were perceived to be more liberal and warmer than those from high-class backgrounds. Additionally, we found that lower-class candidates were generally evaluated more positively than high-class candidates, and we found some evidence for evaluations across class to be moderated by participants' political ideology. These effects generally held across candidate gender and race. This work has important theoretical and practical implications offering insight into the social-class gap between the electorate and the largely elite elected policymakers.
Copyright © 2020. This article first appeared in Political Psychology, October 2020.
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Hoyt, C. L. & DeShields, B. (2021). How Social Class Background Influences Perceptions of Political Leaders. Political Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12697