Monday, June 17, 2013

A Richly Distorted View

A couple of interesting studies out of the University of California, Berkley. Both of them, here and here, indicate that the richer you are, the less likely you are to behave in certain fundamental areas than the rest of us. One study says you're less likely to have empathy for your fellow humans. Another study indicates a certain predisposition to unethical behavior the richer you are. I don't need to tell you that these findings are controversial, but I ask you consult your experience on this. Of course, I can't tell you about your experience, but I can tell you I have no trouble believing the first of these propositions. A junky car with a working class guy is much more likely to stop and help you on the road than a Beamer or Lexus. Watch what kind of people give to beggars on street corners or cripples on the sidewalk. Again, it's been my experience that it's not the rich people who first step up here.

Here's a quote from the second study: "Studies conducted by psychology professor Paul Piff found those who drive luxury cars were less likely to stop for pedestrians, those with more money were more likely take candy from children, and the wealthiest among us were more likely to cheat in a game with a $50 cash prize."

I leave it to you as to what to make of these matters. But evidence also exists that these reactions are rooted in the situation, not the personality. If the rich get poorer, they tend to take on the characteristics of the poor and vice versa. Hmmmmm.
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