Social representations of success in different professional strata

Ibolya Vári-Szilágyi, Zsuzsa Solymosi


In societies heading for modernization, culture‑ and stratum‑specific cognitive representations of social success also undergo change, but it is by no means indifferent to the process of development how they change. Nor is Hungary an exception, where after the changes of the early 1990s the findings of research which give an insight into the images of social and personal success among professionals who play a decisive role in modernization might be of special interest, and perhaps utility. These images are indicators of status as well as motivations in the given process of modernization. The investigation described in this paper used cognitive social psychology to explore the social representations of success among would‑be and practicing members from three professional fields (agricultural engineers, architects and economists) who had and still have varying chances of success after the political changes. The present study only enlarges upon a part of the complex questionnaire survey,specifically the alleged factors and traits (causal attributes) that underlie the success of a) successful persons that respondents’ personally know, and b) generalized Hungarian successful persons, together with the factors that structure the social representations of success, as well as significant differences in these by gender, professional field and generation. The most conspicuous of our findings relates to negative emotional perceptions about the generalized successful Hungarian man, especially in the subsample of students. Known successful people are almost exclusively male and come from the world of business, which is a remarkable sign of the survival of earlier beliefs, even if otherwise no comprehensive difference was detected between the genders. Neither was a difference specific to the field of specialisation identified, in contrast to generation‑specific divergences (particularly concerning the more complex approach of earning professionals to achievement, staying well‑informed and communicative skills).


success, motivation, values, gender

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X