Since its colonization, inequality has been one of Latin America’s (LA) defining characteristics. The social psychology of economic inequality is an emerging field that covers how income disparities shape people's thoughts about interpersonal relations. In this talk, I will present evidence from two studies. First, we use 13 waves from 18 Latin American countries over 23 years (above 250,000 participants) to examine the association between structural inequality and fairness evaluations with political and social trust. Multilevel regression analyses for comparative longitudinal surveys suggest
that within-country changes in economic inequality over time are negatively related to political and social trust. However, between-country inequality was negatively associated with social trust but not to political trust. In addition, fairness evaluations of inequality were positively associated with social and political trust. Exploratory analyses revealed that fairness evaluations mediated the negative association between economic inequality and political and social trust. Second, we tested whether justice evaluations in LA were related to countries’ objective inequality and people’s ideological
differences. We showed that most people in LA evaluate income distribution as unfair, which has not changed meaningfully over the years. However, the region cannot be characterized into a single story. Regardless of people’s similarities, each country has its history, reflecting different societies and worldviews. The results confirm that evaluating the distribution of economic resources is sensitive to the context’s social characteristics. Furthermore, we showed that ideological beliefs
shaped distributive unfairness evaluations beyond structural and situational variables. We discussed how subjective elements, such unfairness evaluations of economic resources, play a decisive role in evaluating social reality and mobilizing people to pursue social change.