Does personal wealth make one less compassionate? Study says yes
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
1/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The "trickle down theory" was one that posited that the more wealthy and affluent people are, the odds are more likely that their money will find itself into the hands of the less fortunate. A startling new study suggests that this isn't so. In fact,. The wealthier a person is, the more likely they are to lie, cheat and steal.
A recent study found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk -- even after making eye contact with the pedestrian.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Looking at whether social class - such as personal wealth, occupational prestige, and education and how it influences how much we care about the feelings of others, Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies.
One study examined the behavior of drivers at a busy four-way intersection. Luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists in lieu of waiting for their turn at the intersection.
This proved to be true for both male and female upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection.
Another study found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk -- even after making eye contact with the pedestrian.
The larger issue, then - does selfishness lead to wealth, rather than vice versa, Piff and his colleagues ran a study where they manipulated people's class feelings.
Researchers asked participants to spend a few minutes comparing themselves either to people better off or worse off than themselves financially. Participants were then shown a jar of candy and told that they could take home as much as they wanted, with all leftover candy to be given to children in a nearby lab. Participants who spent time thinking about how much better off they were compared to others ended up taking significantly more candy for themselves, leaving less behind for the children.
In related studies published last year, they found that less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion towards others on a regular basis. They are more likely to agree with statements such as, "I often notice people who need help," and "It's important to take care of people who are vulnerable."
This proved true even after controlling for other factors that we know affect compassionate feelings, such as gender, ethnicity, and spiritual beliefs.
In another study, test subjects were asked to watch two videos while having their heart rate monitored; One video showed somebody explaining how to build a patio while the other showed children who were suffering from cancer.
Participants indicated how much compassion they felt while watching either video. Social class was measured by the test subject's family's level of income and education. The results of the study showed that participants on the lower end of the spectrum, with less income and education, were more likely to report feeling compassion while watching the video of the cancer patients.
In addition, their heart rates slowed down while watching the cancer video-a response that is associated with paying greater attention to the feelings and motivations of others.
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