Implicit and explicit attitudes of Chinese youth toward the second-generation rich
Yuanyan Hu (Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences), Najam ul Hasan Abbasi (International Islamic University, Islamabad and University of Sindh), Shuang Wang (Soochow University), Yao Zhou (Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences), Ting Yang (Nanchang Normal University), Yang Zhang (Soochow University), 2017, 45(3), 427440

As I write this (September 2017), New Zealand is fewer than 2 weeks out from a general election. Our country has liked to believe that we are a classless society where opportunities are available to all, dependent on hard work and merit. We had a universal social welfare system that was the envy of the rest of the world. However, over the last 10 years the gap between rich and poor has become increasingly stark and troubling. There are now regular items in the national media about homelessness, children arriving at school hungry, and a stretched public health system.

This article on attitudes toward second-generation rich in China piqued my interest because I detected parallels with the situation in New Zealand. We are not a collectivist society and do not, in the main, have the levels of wealth that exist in China. Nevertheless, with social media, the lifestyles and antics of many of the “young people who were born into wealthy families that have connections with people in decision-making, powerful roles, [and] who have high social visibility” (p. 428), are available for all to see. The (born-of-the) have-nots are reminded frequently of advantages they have been denied and cannot conceive of achieving no matter how hard or long they work. 

In this study, the authors investigated the implicit and explicit attitudes of Chinese youth toward second-generation rich, pointing out that people “refer to others’ attitudes toward them to form an evaluation of themselves” (p. 437). Here, they make what I believe is an important link to the role of media, which has the power to “influence public opinion responsibly by reporting events in a way that helps people to make a judgment of this group based on fuller information and, thereby, to reject labels and the current negative stereotypical view” (p. 438).

There will always be some people born into more advantageous circumstances and there is no quick fix to address what is a complex and entrenched imbalance. However, the key finding in this study is that the association between explicit and implicit attitudes was not significant, which indicates that both groups have the power to develop a more balanced view of the second-generation rich. This could lessen animosity between the two groups, promote empathy, and encourage the second-generation rich to “use their inherited wealth and privileges more responsibly,” which the authors suggest could be done by helping “government and nongovernment organizations to create charity and other funding systems to help those who are less privileged” (p. 438). It may seem a small finding, but building connections and compassion is ultimately constructive and beneficial for all. 

Emily Duncan | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal