The psychology of support for redistribution and taxation

Current project leaders: Silvia Filippi & Andrea Scatolon

Description: The main objective of this research work is to identify the main underpinnings of support for progressive taxation. In a large set of studies and using different methodologies (cross-sectional and experimental) we provided evidence of different underpinnings of progressive taxation (cognitive, ideological and contextual). From a cognitive perspective, we investigated the role of understanding progressivity in predicting attitudes towards progressive taxation. Here we also found that emotions towards taxes in general play a key role in the link between understanding and attitude. From an ideological perspective, we explored the role of political orientation on the one hand and meritocracy on the other. Here it emerged that right-wing political-orientated people and those who believe that wealth is meritocratically deserved were more averse to redistribution. Here, we found that generic tax proposals obtained more consensus than specific ones. We found that people prefer general descriptions of taxes because they perceive them to have a stronger impact on society. Based on another line of research, we also found that participants are more tax compliant when presented with the possibility to choose what their taxes are used for (e.g., Cinque per mille) – particularly when their trust in government is low. 

Together, our studies show that support for progressive taxation is a complex issue, shaped by very different underpinnings. Based on both our research and scientific literature on support for redistribution, we are currently working with the Italian Tax Revenue Service to create a set of guidelines aimed at offering functional communication strategies when addressing the topic of redistribution with the general public.


  • CARIPARO grant. “The psychology of economic inequality”. Awarded to Anne Maass & Caterina Suitner (2019).
  • University of Padova, Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialization mini-grant. Awarded to Bruno Gabriel Salvador Casara.

Representative publications:

  • Salvador Casara, B. G., Filippi, S., Suitner, C., Dollani, E., & Maass, A. (2023). Tax the élites! The role of economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs on attitudes towards taxes and redistribution intentions. British Journal of Social Psychology, 62(1), 104-118. DOI:


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