Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

The rich are different — and not in a good way, studies suggest

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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#21  Postby zulumoose » Dec 14, 2011 8:02 am

Lance wrote:
On psychopathy.
This is not just lack of empathy, though that is one of the defining qualities. Psychopathy is a whole condition, in which many qualities are part of the total. It is more like being a human predator, who firmly believes (and acts on the belief) that the smart and proper way to live is to exploit, and prey upon fellow humans. It is very easy for an honest person to determine if he/she is a psychopath. Here is a test.

When I did this, I got only 3 points out of a possible 40. Those who get 30 are definite psychopaths. If you get 20, you are not, but you will be a person I would avoid. See how many points you get, and the honest people report back.

I scored a 3, but I think 2 of those were probably within normal parameters, ie others would score me a 1.\

I think the psycopath would score themselves quite low, as low as they think they could get away with, because it would be in their interest to do so. This needs to be an outside evaluation.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#22  Postby quisquose » Dec 14, 2011 9:39 am

Lance wrote:The biggest source of millionairehood in the USA at that time was drycleaning businesses.

I doubt that very much.

It has been well known that dry cleaning businesses have been used to launder money, so their might be a correlation between owning such a business and being a millionaire. But the source? I don't think so.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#23  Postby I'm With Stupid » Dec 14, 2011 11:10 am

Lance wrote:To IWS

I am a bit influenced by an American book "The Millionaire Next Door" which I read a few years back. According to this, most millionaires are not very noticeable - thus explaining the book title. The biggest source of millionairehood in the USA at that time was drycleaning businesses. This would suggest that starting and running a business is, indeed, the main source of people becoming rich.

I'm just going off an article I read this year that suggested that most millionaires in the UK became millionaires after clever or lucky investment, and that those who earned it by starting a company were in the minority.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#25  Postby Lance » Dec 14, 2011 9:28 pm

On psychopathy
There was an interesting article on this subject, which stated that psychopaths doing the psychopath test actually took pride in their high score. The reason being that they think 'normal' behaviour is stupid. They think that psychopath behaviour, exploiting other people, shows they are smart, and they take pride in that.

Rich get rich because of merit?
Actually, there is a wide range of reasons. The Millionaire next door book suggests the most consistent quality of those who become millionaires is being frugal. Of course, most millionaires are not truly rich by today's standards. Anyone who has an above average income can become a millionaire by simply saving most of their earnings, and investing them in something that returns compound interest. It will take 20 to 40 years, depending on income and amount saved, but it is certainly far from unusual.

For IWS, note that the above book is American, and you might be correct about the UK. I know directly about New Zealand only, and my experience (sadly not quantified) suggests to me that in NZ, becoming a millionaire, most of the time, is a combination of operating a lucrative business and being frugal.
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How Wealth Reduces Compassion

#26  Postby rEvolutionist » Apr 19, 2012 3:44 am ... compassion
Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? It’s temping to think that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to act fairly. After all, if you already have enough for yourself, it’s easier to think about what others may need. But research suggests the opposite is true: as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.

I can't say I find these results strange at all. I would never have thought it was the opposite.

Who's suprised at this?:
In a second study, participants were asked to watch two videos while having their heart rate monitored. One video showed somebody explaining how to build a patio. The other showed children who were suffering from cancer. After watching the videos, participants indicated how much compassion they felt while watching either video. Social class was measured by asking participants questions about their 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.

I should say, that I haven't read the whole article, or investigated its methodology for flaws, so there may be valid criticisms of this study.
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Re: How Wealth Reduces Compassion

#27  Postby Jakov » Apr 21, 2012 4:04 pm

I already knew this, but intuition can be wrong so it's good we have a small amount of evidence for it.
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Re: How Wealth Reduces Compassion

#28  Postby chairman bill » Apr 21, 2012 4:14 pm

Helps explain why Tories are such heartless bastards
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Re: How Wealth Reduces Compassion

#29  Postby Blip » Apr 21, 2012 4:24 pm

Having been born into (real) poverty and had varying amounts of income throughout my life, I can only say that my attitude hasn't changed. I acknowledge that I'm a sample of one, but maybe, as the Jesuits famously observed, early experiences are formative?

Actually, if I'm scrupulously honest, I'm more sympathetic towards those who have no choice than towards those who do. :ask:
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Re: How Wealth Reduces Compassion

#30  Postby Scot Dutchy » Apr 21, 2012 4:27 pm

chairman bill wrote:Helps explain why Tories are such heartless bastards

Except when they are giving to charities to cut down their tax bill.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#31  Postby E49 » Apr 22, 2012 4:02 am

Lance wrote:Approximately 85% of millionaires are self made. Those who inherit their money, or win it make up only 15%. It is not terribly surprising that the 85% are a bit down on those who have not succeeded, since it actually takes massive sacrifice to become a millionaire

I agree with this.

and they naturally see the 'losers' as those who are not prepared to do what it takes. In fact, there is an element of truth in that belief. All of which does not excuse lack of empathy.

I don't agree with this.

I can only speak anecdotally. I'm not a millionaire yet (I'm only 32) but I'm very driven and hardworking and therefore "further ahead" than most people older than me. Now, obviously "further ahead" depends on what's important to you, most people would be further ahead in a social context than I am. I'm speaking about being further ahead in my career and personal financial equity. I'm probably "further behind" in a lot of other areas.

Anyway, the point is that it does take massive sacrifices to get ahead. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The key thing that I learnt on my journey to where I am now is that you cannot be a victim, you need to take responsibility for things that happen to you and need to find a way to move forward. I cannot see how anyone could become a self-made millionaire without learning this principle first, unless it was a fluke.

So, personally, I'm terrible at empathizing because it goes against a key principle of mine. In the moment, I think the person would be better off if they stopped being a victim and got on with it. Having said that I do empathize when the matter is not in the person's control (which is rare).
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#32  Postby Phil75231 » Apr 22, 2012 4:20 am

Psychopaths -> lack of caring (though not necessarily empathy*) -> more likely to be successful: Depends on their self-discipline when it comes to obeying the law, projecting the "right image", etc. The successful ones DO avoid prison and at least don't stray too far away into the wrong side of public opinion. The unsuccessful ones - if they do avoid jail time (and a surprising number do), they'll display conning, manipulation, lack of compassion, and habitual pathological lying to an astonishing degree. I was acquainted with at least two people in my life who likely would qualify for psychopathy, and I would not want to repeat the experience. NOTE: these aren't just plain douchebags in the common everyday sense - they go beyond that, to the point where they simply are not normal people (normal in the civilized, reasonably well-behaved sense).

*which i take to mean "people reading", but I could be wrong. Who knows? Maybe they genuinely lack the capacity to feel pain or pleasure in others, and simply detect pleasure and pain via face and body reading cues alone.

As for the pain thrust of the article, that begs the question: Are they less empathetic because they are rich, or are they rich because they are less empathetic to begin with (especially regarding the self-made types)? Narcissism and Celebrity by Young and Pinsky of The University of Southern California, found no correlation between years of experience in Hollywood and narcissism (a condition similar to psychopathy). Reality TV stars seem most inclined to narcissism, followed by comedians, actors, and musicians in that order. Just how relevant it is to the wealthy having less empathy, i'm not prepared to say. Even so, it does suggest that a large number of millionaires (self-made or otherwise) were unempathetic before they became rich (or if born into wealth, were 'baby-ed' so much they developed an unreasonably high sense of entitlement).
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#33  Postby Agrippina » Apr 22, 2012 6:31 am

Just getting back to the "rich are selfish" idea, I'd be interested to know what "rich" people they're talking about: new money, old money, money inherited, money made from "trade" and also social circumstances, and culture. I think that culture and tradition play a huge part in altruism, and philanthropy. My experience is that people who have always had money, and here there are no families older than 450 years anyway, and the money they have was made from having exploited the wealth they found when they came here, are more likely to be involved in charity and philanthropic works, than the people who for instance have made it from celebrity or a sudden windfall, but then again if they were already a member of an old, established family, and made money off a new idea, the philanthropy seems to come naturally. I grew up in comfortable circumstances. My parents' families were comfortably off, one from family history of farming and the other from "trade." Both sides were charitable. Giving anonymously to charity has always been part of our culture, we've never been in the "public eye" seeking celebrity through charity but in my family, we've always been generous in sharing whatever we've had with others, and not doing it for the tax breaks. I've never claimed a tax deduction for charity.
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