Psychology of Inequality

Research theme

Our research examines the dynamics of inequality and combines an experimental focus on how context shapes decision-making

This research theme focuses on the psychological antecedents and consequences of inequality, fleshing out the ways in which societal change both reflects and shapes the individual citizen and their relationships with others.

Inequalities in living conditions and outcomes within nations and across the globe have a strong psychological dimension. Poverty shapes our cognition, emotion, and sociality in ways that matter for decision-making and wellbeing, while experiences of injustice and marginalisation have a corrosive impact on social cohesion, trust, and mental health. At the same time, our behavioural sensitivity to identity, ideology, and status sheds light on how we come to tolerate inequality in the first place, and the political possibilities to improve it.  

Researchers in this theme are leading voices in the field of social psychology, who also draw on theory and methods from community and cultural psychology, economics, sociology, and political science. Our research examines the dynamics of inequality as they play out in Global North and Global South settings, and combines an experimental focus on how context shapes decision-making, with a bottom-up, qualitative examination of experiences of exclusion in people’s own voices.

Research on the development of political attitudes uses longitudinal and cross-national surveys, combined with behavioural genetics analyses and pairing with national registry data, to examine how basic orientations toward the resolution of collective resource dilemmas are shaped by forces at the familial, social, and societal level, and influence political outcomes.

Cutting across this methodological diversity is a commitment to a ‘societal’ approach to psychology, wherein the social mind plays a key role at the root, and the resolution, of the most pressing issues of our time. 

Expertise and resources

Below you can find experts, research and media focussed on the psychology of inequality.


Lucia Garcia 2020 200 x 200

Dr Lucia Garcia-Lorenzo

Associate Professor 



Dr Ilka Gleibs

Associate Professor 



Sandra Jovchelovitch 200 x 200

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Professor in Social Psychology



Dr Celestin Okoroji

Visiting Fellow



Jennifer Sheehy Skeffington 200x200

Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Associate Professor



Selected publications

Whitehead, K.A, Raymond, G., & Stokoe, E. (2024). Analyzing social categories in talk-in-interaction. In J.D. Robinson, R. Clift, K. Kendrick, & C. Raymond (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of research methods in conversation analysis. Cambridge University Press. 

McGovern, P., Obradovic, S., & Bauer, M.W. (2023). In search of a Tawney Moment: Income inequality, financial crisis and the mass media in the UK and the USAThe Sociological Review, 71(5), 1213-1233. 

Frings, D., Gleibs, I. H., & Ridley, A. M. (2020). What moderates the attainment gap? The effects of social identity incompatibility and practical incompatibility on the performance of students who are or are not Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic. Social Psychology of Education, 23(1), 171-188.

Garcia-Lorenzo, L., Sell-Trujillo, L., & Donnelly, P. (2018). Beyond the unemployment condition: Creative resilience tactics among the long term unemployed. Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2018, No. 1, p. 14810). 

Jovchelovitch, S., & Priego-Hernandez, J. (2012). Underground sociabilities: identity, culture and resistance in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Kteily, N. S., Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Ho, A. K. (2017). Hierarchy in the eye of the beholder:(Anti-) egalitarianism shapes perceived levels of social inequality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(1), 136.

Okoroji, C., Gleibs, I. H., & Jovchelovitch, S. (2020). Elite stigmatization of the unemployed: The association between framing and public attitudes. British Journal of Psychology.

Sheehy-Skeffington, J. (2020). The effects of low socioeconomic status on decision-making processes. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, 183-188.

Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Rea, J. (2017). How poverty affects People's decision-making processes (pp. 1-73). York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Sheehy-Skeffington, J., & Thomsen, L. (2020). Egalitarianism: psychological and socio-ecological foundations. Current Opinion in Psychology, 32, 146-152.


Jim Sidanius

The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality

March 2021

Speakers: Jim Sidanius (Harvard University) and Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (LSE).

Listen to the podcast recording of The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality via LSE Player.

Watch The Psychology of Intergroup Inequality via the LSE YouTube channel.