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Social Class and Self-Esteem: Psychological Centrality, Compensation, and the Relative Effects of Work and Home

Viktor Gecas and Monica A. Seff
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 53, No. 2, Special Issue: Social Structure and the Individual (Jun., 1990), pp. 165-173
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786677
Page Count: 9
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Social Class and Self-Esteem: Psychological Centrality, Compensation, and the Relative Effects of Work and Home
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Abstract

In this study we examine how the processes of psychological centrality and compensation affect the relationships between social class (as well as other structural and contextual variables) and self-esteem. We propose that the muted relationship generally found in research on social class and self-esteem is due largely to the uncontrolled influence of the self-esteem motive. We hypothesized that when work is central to self-evaluation, social class and associated occupational conditions will have a stronger effect on self-esteem than when work is not central. Similarly, when family is central, family variables will have a stronger effect on self-esteem. Using a sample of 228 employed men, we found strong support for the operation of psychological centrality and, to some extent, of compensation.

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