Examples of 'Hidden Rules' Among Classes


September 1, 2010

September coverFood

Poverty: “Did you have enough?” Quantity important.
Middle class: “Did you like it?” Quality important.
Wealth: “Was it presented well?” Presentation important.


Poverty: Present most important. Decisions made spur of the moment based on survival.
Middle class: Future important. Decisions made against future ramifications.
Wealth: Past important. Decisions made based upon tradition and decorum.


Poverty: To be spent, used.
Middle class: To be saved.
Wealth: To be invested.


Poverty: Revered as an abstract, but not a reality.
Middle class: Crucial for climbing success ladder and making money.
Wealth: Necessary tradition for making and maintaining social and political connections.

Driving Forces

Poverty: Survival, relationships and entertainment to dull pain.
Middle class: Work and achievement.
Wealth: Financial, political and social connections.

Source: Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities (aha! Process Inc., 2001) by Ruby K. Payne, Philip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi Smith.


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.