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In a series of studies, more than 300 upper- and lower-class people were asked the interpret the emotions of people in photos and of strangers during mock job interviews.
In both cases, those with more education, money and self-defined social status weren’t nearly as adept at figuring out if a person was angry, happy, anxious or upset as their lower class colleagues.
Kraus says that's likely because people from lower-economic backgrounds may have to rely on others for help.
“You turn to people, it’s an adaptive strategy,” he says. “You develop this sort of heightened independence with other individuals as a way to deal with not having enough individual resources.”
Upper-class people, on the other hand, don’t need to ask for help that often.
“One of the negative side effects of that is that they’re less concerned and less perceptive of other people’s needs and wishes. They show a deficit in empathic accuracy.”