February 27, 2012

Rich People Lie and Cheat

By Cynthia Alkon

A recent study out of UC Berkeley describes seven experiments by psychologists that examined the behavior of wealthy people compared to those in lower socioeconmic positions. The study concluded that wealthier people are more likely to lie, cheat, and behave unethically then those who aren’t wealthy.

One of the experiments looked at driver behavior and concluded that those with newer and more expensive cars were less likely to stop for pedestrians and more likely to cut off other cars. If only they were also tracking how many were simultaneously using their cell phone, this might rank as my favorite study of all time.

One of the seven experiments looked at whether participants would, in the role of a potential employer, lie by not revealing information in a salary negotiation. The wealthy were far more likely to lie, misrepresent, or withhold the information.

The study draws some conclusions about why the wealthy may be more willing to lie and cheat and states that part of the reason may be “their more favorable attitudes towards greed.”

For a shorter news account of the study see: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/27/health/rich-more-unethical/index.html

For the study itself see: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/21/1118373109.abstract?sid=9d30c51d-0a9a-4dcf-b6e0-fc830405add8

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Comments

  • Will Privette says:

    Interesting topic. I have a few theories as to why the rich cheat and lie more often than the poor. It’s the same concept involving the power-hungry cop that seems to always abuse his or her power: the notion that money buys power, and many times people do not know how to handle that power.

    Often times you see or hear in the news yet another professional athlete has cheated on his wife. But let’s be real and think about it… Take Tiger Woods for example… How many of us with a billion dollars in the bank account, with a job that requires us to travel to exotic places to play golf, and a face and namesake that is known by nearly every human in the world would be able to resist temptation? We all say yes, but until I walk a mile in billion dollar shoes, I can’t be too sure.

    The economically disadvantaged have more to worry about: traffic tickets for elusive driving habits; where dinner is coming from.. etc..

    To wrap up, I feel that some rich people have a sense of entitlement couched in opportunity. The opportunities that come with money (the cars, the women, the clothes, etc..) The rich use their piles of money as a backbone and an answer to most problems. Money opens doors, both good and bad, and of course some will choose those doors ripe with mischievous adventure.

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