Andrew E. White, Douglas T. Kenrick, Rebecca Neel, and Steven L. Neuberg (2013)
How do economic recessions influence attitudes toward redistribution of wealth? From a traditional economic self-interest perspective, attitudes toward redistribution should be affected by one’s financial standing. A functional evolutionary approach suggests another possible form of self-interest: That during periods of economic threat, attitudes toward redistribution should be influenced by one’s mate-value—especially for men. Using both lab-based experiments and real-world data on voting behavior, we consistently find that economic threats lead low mate-value men to become more prosocial and supportive of redistribution policies, but that the same threats lead high mate-value men to do the opposite. Economic threats do not affect women’s attitudes toward redistribution in the same way, and, across studies, financial standing is only weakly associated with attitudes toward redistribution. These findings suggest that during tough economic times, men’s attitudes toward redistribution are influenced by something that has seemingly little to do with economic self-interest—their mating psychology.