Our body of ongoing research shows that people from working-class backgrounds tend to understand themselves as interdependent with and highly connected to others. Parents teach their children the importance of following the rules and adjusting to the needs of others, in part because there is no economic safety net to fall back on. Common sayings include “You can’t always get what you want” and “It’s not all about you”; values such as solidarity, humility, and loyalty take precedence.
In contrast, people from middle- and upper-class contexts tend to understand themselves as independent and separate from others. Parents teach kids the importance of cultivating their personal preferences, needs, and interests. Common sayings include “The world is your oyster” and “Your voice matters”; values such as uniqueness, self-expression, and influence take precedence.
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