The model distinguishes two main factors, namely objective and subjective social class.
Objective social class refers to material conditions, such as income level. From this point of view, the material constraints experienced by lower classes lead to a great deal of dependence relative to one’s environment, as well as other people.
To the contrary, affluence enables to act in ways that reflect the upper-class ideal of independence. Here, behavior is not synonym with coping with adversity, but with the expression of preferences, the pursuit of individual interests, the desire to stand out, etc.
Next, subjective social class refers to socioeconomic identities based on subjective perception of one’s rank in relation to others. This subjective perception translates into patterns of behavior that signal, and thus reinforce, one’s standing in society.
For instance, lower classmen tend to display engaged non-verbal behaviors (such as nodding and direct eye contact), while upper classmen tend to be more disengaged.
All in all, the psychology of the less fortunate can be described as “contextualism”, the paradigm of their behavior being the struggle against external threats; while the psychology of the more fortunate can be described as “solipsism”, their behavior being largely driven by internal mental states.
Interestingly, this translates into different attributional patterns. Lower classmen tend to have an external locus of control and explain human behavior situationally, while upper classmen tend to have an internal locus of control and make dispositional attriburions.
Finally, Manstead (2018) notes that standards for success being based on upper class psychology (e.g., in school), the “system” sets institutional barriers to upward social mobility.
Source: Manstead (2018)