Similarity Focus and Support for Redistribution

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 15 May 2017 Last revised: 16 May 2017

See all articles by Nailya Ordabayeva

Nailya Ordabayeva

Boston College

Daniel Fernandes

Catholic University of Portugal

Date Written: May 12, 2017


Although wealth inequality in the U.S. has soared to unprecedented levels in recent decades, support for redistribution is not commonplace. This research proposes a new strategy to boost redistribution support, by prompting focus on similarity (vs. dissimilarity). Four studies conducted with U.S. participants online (sampled at approximately 150 per condition in Studies 1A, 1B, and 3, and 250 participants per condition in Study 2) show that similarity (vs. dissimilarity) focus increases redistribution support. This is because focusing on similarity (vs. dissimilarity) boosts the perception that people are similar in dispositional inputs (hard work, motivation), which, in turn, weakens the justification of dissimilar outcomes and the perceived fairness of the unequal wealth distribution. The findings support the view that redistribution preferences and beliefs that justify them can be malleable, and they contribute to the emerging literature on using external manipulations to shift redistribution support.

Keywords: Similarity, Redistribution, Inequality, Distributive justice

Suggested Citation

Ordabayeva, Nailya and Fernandes, Daniel, Similarity Focus and Support for Redistribution (May 12, 2017). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Nailya Ordabayeva

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Daniel Fernandes (Contact Author)

Catholic University of Portugal ( email )

Palma de Cima
Lisboa, 1649-023

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