The way an individual views their position in the social hierarchy is known as subjective socioeconomic status (SSS). People who fall into lower SSS categories also report having more negative physical and psychological health conditions than those in higher SSS. Research has shown that low SSS individuals have higher rates of physiological deficiencies, more colds, and even higher mortality rates than higher SSS people. However, aside from these factors, the influence of negative mood states on SSS has yet to be fully examined. Negative mood has never been linked to one’s disclosure of income attainment or education, two factors that significantly shape an individual’s socioeconomic status. But because SSS is linked to overall self-reported health status, determining exactly how, and if, negative affect impacts SSS is of critical importance to medical and psychological professionals. To look at this more closely, Michael W. Kraus of the Center for Health and Community at the University of California in San Francisco led a study designed to evaluate the relationship between negative mood and SSS.
Kraus and his colleagues enlisted 300 adults and exposed them to a mood induction experiment that evoked shame, sadness, or neutral moods. The participants were then assessed for depression, self-reports of health and SSS, and negative affect. Kraus discovered that when the participants experienced a shift in mood from neutral to negative, their reports of health or SSS did not change. Additionally, he found that even levels of depression and physical and mental health remained constant, regardless of the mood fluctuation. Kraus believes these results, which demonstrate an independent relationship between negative mood states and SSS, have significant implications for better comprehending how socioeconomic status is related to mental and physical health. Kraus said, “SSS is an important aspect of everyday life, having robust associations to our global health.” He added, “In this research we provided evidence that this rank-based facet of SES shapes health in ways that are independent of temporary mood swings and other demographic factors.”
Kraus, M. W., Adler, N., Chen, T.-W. D. (2012, February 13). Is the Association of Subjective SES and Self-Rated Health Confounded by Negative Mood? An Experimental Approach. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027343
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