What wealth does to people

I got excited as I watched this because the study was done at the UC Berkeley Psychology department! I had Professor Keltner for two classes.

While the researchers claim to have gotten the same findings over and over again in different experiments, by making people feel rich or poor, I wonder if some of the behaviors that were found to be more common in wealthy people, such as cheating, lying, and endorsing unethical behavior, are characteristic of people who aren’t yet wealthy but have a high potential to become wealthy. In other words, couldn’t those behaviors be what it takes to get rich? Likewise, it could be that people who have lower incomes aren’t as selfish and greedy to begin with, and not that it’s a consequence of poverty. Of course, as I learned from Prof. Keltner’s social psychology class, situations have a surprisingly huge amount of influence on people’s behavior. We’ve all heard of people who became wealthy and forgot their humble beginnings. Perhaps there are more data on this that I am not aware of. I guess it can be teased apart by comparing people who inherited their wealth, or didn’t otherwise have to work for it, with those who did work for their wealth (even if they acquired it through dishonest means).


7 thoughts on “What wealth does to people

  1. Pingback: Wealthy People Steal, Lie, Cheat, and Steal Candy from Babies | Talesfromthelou's Blog

  2. Interesting study, but not surprised at all about the results of rich car/eco car. Often times, common conversation here. Some other findings were not surprising but a 1 second eye opener, like the candy. I would have liked to see one more control with monoply, different age groups I’d like to see how different generations would have responded to the inequities given, not surprised by the attitudes, but they were all younger subjects.

    • They said the studies were repeated across the country, but from what I know about psych studies, most of the time, the participants are undergrads. You can send your feedback to the researchers if you want to.

  3. Interesting, but I would never use the generalized results of one study to form an opinion; I’m too much of a skeptic. Sometimes, the media will take a relarively obscure study, take one rather inflamatory idea from it, then publish it like it’s truth. And the people who like those results, will nod their heads and be happy; while those who disagree with it will be irritated.
    I’ve heard that it isa complaint of some scientists that their work is used this way by the media.

  4. Very interesting study and supports the age old adage that power corrupts. Regarding your hypothesis, I don’t think having antisocial traits would be precursors or qualities to actually achieving wealth. They would likely be a detriment to success since that behavior would foster negative sentiment in others at a time when help from others would be beneficial in rising higher.

    I’m not sure how it could be don’t but your next question of studying those who are self made wealthy versus those who inherit wealth would be interesting, although the outcome would be expected to be similar since those who came into success by chance attributed it to their own abilities rather than luck.

    The study paints a grim picture for our society since the results point to any “good” folks elected to government will have a bias towards becoming corrupted by the system rather than cleaning it up. It also shows that the concept of deregulation and self-regulation of companies are bad policies as conflicts of interest will most likely result in actions favoring the company regardless of any ethical violations that would cause. We saw this clearly on Wall Street that led to the housing bubble blowup.

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