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Study: Rich people more prone to be unethical cheapskates

money012712_optThe 99 percent usually portray the 1 percent at being dishonest, heartless and generally unscrupulous. Now, a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, supports that notion.

"If you occupy a more insular world, you're less likely to be sensitive to the needs of others," Paul Piff, lead author of the study, was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times.

Piff’s group first observed cars at a four-way stop intersection in the San Francisco Bay area, concluding that drivers in the more expensive automobiles were more likely to not give the right of way to other motorists, as well as to cut off drivers and pedestrians.

In fact, the Times reported, those in the most pricey cars were four times as likely as drivers of economy models to fail to give the right of way — especially when it came to pedestrians.

The researchers then conducted another series of tests intended to deem whether or not economic class affected ethical behavior. The conclusions were basically the same.

"The patterns were just so consistent," Piff said. "It was very, very compelling."

Greed, they reasoned, was the motivating factor, according to an article on myfoxdc.com.

The more affluent had an increased likelihood to cheat in games when cash was involved and to lie in business negotiations, or even — as the saying goes — take candy from a baby.

In one scenario, students were asked what they would do if given change for a $20 bill when they had paid with a $10 bill. The more affluent the person, the less likely they were to tell the cashier about the error.

But even those in the 99 Percent could be guilty of more crude behavior if they suddenly came into money. The group found that when subjects of any status were asked to imagine themselves at a high social rank, they took more candy from a jar of goodies intended for children.

"There is a strong notion that when people don't have much, they're really looking out for themselves and they might act unethically," Scott Wiltermuth, who researches social status at USC's Marshall School of Business and wasn't involved in the study, was quoted as saying in the Times. "But actually, it's the upper-class people that are less likely to see that people around them need help — and therefore act unethically."

--JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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