The Psychology of Entrenched Privilege: High Socioeconomic Status Individuals From Affluent Backgrounds Are Uniquely High in Entitlement.

Stéphane Côté, Jennifer E. Stellar, Robb Willer, Rachel C. Forbes, Sean R. Martin, and Emily C. Bianchi


As rates of intergenerational social mobility decline, it is increasingly important to understand the psychological consequences of entrenched socioeconomic privilege. Here, we explore whether current and childhood socioeconomic status (SES) are interactively related to entitlement, such that among currently high SES individuals, those from affluent backgrounds are likely to feel uniquely high levels of entitlement, whereas currently low SES individuals feel low entitlement regardless of their backgrounds. A meta-analysis of four exploratory studies (total N = 3,105) found that currently high SES individuals who were also raised in high SES households were especially inclined to report feeling entitled, a pattern that was robust across three indicators of SES: income, education, and subjective SES. Results of a preregistered, confirmatory study (N = 1,058) replicated this interactive pattern for education and subjective SES, though not for income. Our findings highlight the importance of considering current and childhood SES jointly to understand the psychological consequences of SES.