Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mind:  Rich People More Likely to Lie and Cheat

... researchers now find that people in the upper crust may be more likely to engage in lying, cheating and other kinds of unethical activity than those in lower classes.
In two tests conducted in a natural setting, scientists examined a simple example of unethical behavior on the road — how likely it would be for drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area to cut in front of other vehicles at a busy four-way intersection and cut off pedestrians at a crosswalk. They estimated the social class of drivers based on vehicle make, age and appearance, and discovered that drivers of upper-class cars cut off other cars and pedestrians more often.

Four lab tests that included undergraduates at Berkeley and national online samples of adults revealed those who considered themselves upper class had greater tendencies to make unethical decisions. This included unrightfully stealing something, lying in a negotiation, cheating at a game of chance to boost their chances of winning cash or endorsing unethical behavior at work, such as stealing cash, receiving bribes and overcharging customers.

Another lab experiment revealed that unethical behavior was not necessarily inherent to individuals. The researchers had volunteers compare themselves with people with the most or least money, education and respected jobs, thereby subtly putting them into the mindset of someone with a relatively low or high socioeconomic status. When then presented with a jar of candy ostensibly for kids in a nearby lab, those made to feel as if they were upper class took more candy that would otherwise go to children, findings that suggest the experience of higher social class might nudge one to act unethically.

"If you take lower socioeconomic status people and just change their social values very subtly, they'll act just as unethically as upper-class individuals," Piff said. "The patterns of behavior naturally arise from increased wealth and status compared to others."

[Emphasis added].

For more, see Rich People More Likely to Lie, Cheat, Study Suggests by Charles Choi, February 27, 2012 at LiveScience.

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