Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Stephen Chen


Most previous research on social status in children has solely focused on examining correlations between objective socioeconomic status (SES) and child developmental outcomes. However, no research to-date has examined how minority children understand and experience social status and how subjective social status (SSS) in middle childhood affects children’s socioemotional development and well-being. Given these gaps in the current literature, this study aimed to research 1) how children understand and experience SSS, and 2) associations between SSS and socioemotional development. Specifically, it examined how children assess and determine SSS, describe and perceive others of high/low social status, explain wealth/poverty, and choose between children of high/low social status in varying situations. It also examined if SSS was more significantly correlated than SES with child loneliness and social dissatisfaction. Results indicated that children most commonly referenced money and jobs when determining self SSS, and individualistic factors (e.g., effort and ability) when explaining wealth/poverty. Children also associated racial minorities with lower social status more often than they did so for Caucasians, and preferred to make friends with and work with children of higher social status to those of lower social status. Finally, we also found that children’s SSS, but not SES, was negatively associated with child loneliness and social dissatisfaction.

Keywords: social status, subjective social status (SSS), socioeconomic status (SES), minority children, immigrant children, middle childhood, socioemotional development

Available for download on Friday, May 20, 2022