Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Matthew Brashears


This research investigates how individuals’ structural positions affect their justice perceptions of income distribution. Several previous studies have found the effect of socio-economic status along with other factors on people’s preference for how much more high-prestige occupations should be paid than low-prestige occupations. However, there is not much effort on exploring theoretical explanations for those empirical findings. To provide explanations for the effect of structural position on perceptions of income inequality, two potential theoretical perspectives are examined: self-interest theory and Wegener’s illusory perception theory. The study uses Chinese General Social Survey data to investigate the impact of individuals’ income on the justice gap, which measures the injustice they perceived from general income distribution. The result suggests that high income people tend to perceive less injustice than low income people, supporting the self-interest theory perspective. Pay satisfaction is found to partially explain the effect of income on the perceived injustice. It’s concluded that individuals’ perceptions of social inequality are distorted depending on their structural positions along the income hierarchy.


© 2017, Jingwen Zhong

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