Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Root of All Evil

Wired magazine distills a new research study which argues that as an individual's wealth and status rise, they tend to behave more unethically.  The paper incorporates the findings of seven different, and equally fascinating, experiements.  In one, reasearchers found that owners of fancy cars are more likely to cut off pedestrians. In another, subjects were asked to imagine themselves as either very rich or poor.  They were later given an chance to take candy from a jar that was being delivered to children in another lab. Students who had imagined themselves to be rich took more candy, suggesting that “the experience of higher social class has a causal relationship to unethical decision-making and behavior.”  In the end the study concludes that:

[U]nethical behavior in the study was driven both by greed, which makes people less empathic, and the nature of wealth in a highly stratified society. It insulates people from the consequences of their actions, reduces their need for social connections and fuels feelings of entitlement, all of which become self-reinforcing cultural norms.

Steve Clowney

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