Life at both ends of the ladder: education-based identification and its association with well-being and social attitudes

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


Toon Kuppens, Matthew J. Easterbrook, Russell Spears and Antony S. R. Manstead

Publication date


Level of formal education is an important divide in contemporary societies; it is positively related to health, well-being, and social attitudes such as tolerance for minorities and interest in politics. We investigated whether education-based identification is a common underlying factor of these education effects. Indeed, education-based identification was stronger among the higher educated, especially for identification aspects that encompass education-based group esteem (i.e., the belief that one’s educational group is worthy and that others think so, too). Furthermore, while group esteem had beneficial effects across educational levels, aspects of identification that were unrelated to group esteem had positive effects for the higher educated but not for the less educated. Thus, the less educated do not benefit from the psychologically nourishing effect of identification that exists for other groups. The stigma and responsibility related to low education could be a common explanation for a wide range of outcomes.

Volume and page numbers

41, 1260-1275





Education, Well Being, Social Capital, Social Attitudes, Higher Education and Social Psychology


Open Access article; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (