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Interesting Article: Are Wealthy People Less Ethical

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Maggie AAR

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:21 am    Post subject: Interesting Article: Are Wealthy People Less Ethical Reply with quote

Here it is:

At last, an explanation for Wall Street's disgrace, Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and other high-society crimes and misdemeanors: A new study published in the Proceedings of that National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people were more apt to behave unethically than those who had less money.

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person's rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.

"We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see greed and self-interest as good pursuits," said Paul Piff, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. "This resonates with a lot of current events these days."

In the first of two studies, researchers found that those who drove more expensive cars (an admittedly questionable indicator of economic worth) were more likely to cut off other cars and pedestrians at a busy San Francisco four-way intersection than those who drove older, less-expensive vehicles.

In other experiments, wealthier study participants were more likely to admit they would behave unethically in a variety of situations and lie during negotiations. In another, researchers found wealthier people were more likely to cheat in an online game to win a $50 prize.

Greed is a "robust" determinant of unethical behavior, according to the study.

"This has some pretty clear implications," said Piff. "Inequality is very much on Americans' minds, and the potential effects of severe inequality on individual levels of behavior are major."

Large sums of money may give people greater feelings of entitlement, causing those people to be the most averse to wealth distribution, Piff continued. Poorer people may be less likely to cheat, because they are more dependent on their community at large, he said. In other words, they don't want to rock the boat.

"People in power who are more inclined to behave unethically in the service of gains and self-interest can have great effects on society as a whole," said Piff.

And it's difficult to say whether richer people get to the top because of their unethical behavior or whether wealth causes people to become this way. "It seems like a vicious cycle," he said.

Nevertheless, Piff said these results obviously don't apply to all wealthy people. He noted that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were among the wealthiest people in the world and also the most philanthropic. He also pointed to high rates of violent crime in the poorest neighborhoods in the country that counteract the study's findings.

Piff said he hoped to further his research by figuring out ways to curb these patterns of behavior among wealthier individuals.

"What it comes down to, really, is that money creates more of a self-focus, which may account for larger feelings of entitlement," said Piff. "We hope to further study how we can curb these patterns and how that will affect our social environment."
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm somewhat surprised by that observation. You'd think wealthy people wouldn't act that way because they have more money than average people, but some of them do. Apparently greed is a more important quality than kindness and consideration to fellow humans. -.-

I say I'm somewhat surprised by that observation because in my personal experience, I can't say the people that I know of that are well off are very kind or considerate and are somewhat greedy and selfish. -.-

I think I read another article of this report, and it was in some health news articles. One of the experiments was where wealthy people were told that a jar of candy located at the entrance of the experiment room was for children only. But when the wealthy people left the experiment room, more of the wealthy people took candy from the jar intended for children than people of a lower income level. -.-

I could say more, but I'll wait for a reply first. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm always reluctant to accept studies like this without a healthy dose of salt. For example, that people in expensive cars are more likely to cut off other drivers, indicates to me that they are simply more aggressive than that they have ethical issues about taking turns or that they feel more entitled.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We live in a world that puts so much emphasis on wealth, position and fame (idolizing celebrities) that having some, or all, of those criteria makes some people think that they are more important than people without those things. I actually know some people like that, very unpleasant to be around. Sad
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:34 pm    Post subject: Can See That Reply with quote

Cool I can see that, come on they think they can have it all without any thoughts on the matter. They have money so why think, not saying all wealthy people are like this but the one's that do this make it seem like they are up there. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree with the study. People who are less ethical are that way because that's who they are and not how much money they have. I think those rich people who were unethical got it from being poor. They had to be unethical to get rich. Half joking aside, I know and have seen plenty of people who either had no education but got rich have no ethics or people who were not poor but middle class who have no ethics. With time, all my personal experiences have shown me that "bad" or "good" people are who they are inside, not determined by financial gains. That'sonly secondary.
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