Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

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

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Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#1  Postby Tangerine Dream » Aug 10, 2011 5:16 pm

Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish. In fact, he says, the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class "ideology of self-interest."

“We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”

In an academic version of a Depression-era Frank Capra movie, Keltner and co-authors of an article called “Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm,” published this week in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, argue that “upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self….”

In other words, rich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,” said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.

“I will quote from the Tea Party hero Ayn Rand: “‘It is the morality of altruism that men have to reject,’” he said.


Whether or not Keltner is right, there certainly is a “let them cake” vibe in the air. Last week The New York Times reported on booming sales of luxury goods, with stores keeping waiting lists for $9,000 coats and the former chairman of Saks saying, “If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?”

According to Gallup, Americans earning more than $90,000 per year continued to increase their consumer spending in July while middle- and lower-income Americans remained stalled, even as the upper classes argue that they can’t pay any more taxes. Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us continues to grow wider, with over 80 percent of the nation’s financial wealth controlled by about 20 percent of the people.

Unlike the rich, lower class people have to depend on others for survival, Keltner argued. So they learn “prosocial behaviors.” They read people better, empathize more with others, and they give more to those in need.

That’s the moral of Capra movies like “You Can’t Take It With You,” in which a plutocrat comes to learn the value of community and family. But Keltner, author of the book “Born To Be Good: The Science of A Meaningful Life,” doesn’t rely on sentiment to make his case.............


................There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal.

The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.<<<< FULL ARTICLE>>>>>
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#2  Postby quisquose » Aug 10, 2011 5:52 pm

Most of the rich people I know, at least those that have made themselves rich, have displayed a level of Aspergers type behaviour, so I am not surprised by this.

But I like average people. I like people who enjoy the simple things in life, a pint, a laugh, and a chat. People who are motivated by family and friendship, not money.

This study only describes people at one end of the normal distribution curve, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that a larger number of poor people were also "unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources".
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#3  Postby mrjonno » Aug 10, 2011 6:54 pm

I would have thought you would need a high degree of empathy (ie putting yourself in another position) to succeed in business but thats absolutely nothing to do with being selfish or selfless. Understanding someone needs means you can either help a person or screw money out of them in other words empathy is morally neutral
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#4  Postby Nostalgia » Aug 10, 2011 7:00 pm

mrjonno wrote:I would have thought you would need a high degree of empathy (ie putting yourself in another position) to succeed in business but thats absolutely nothing to do with being selfish or selfless. Understanding someone needs means you can either help a person or screw money out of them in other words empathy is morally neutral


In a recent issue of Focus, the BBC's science mag had a study which found one in twenty five people in the business world were psychopaths, four times higher than the general population. :shifty:
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#5  Postby quisquose » Aug 10, 2011 7:15 pm

MacIver wrote:
mrjonno wrote:I would have thought you would need a high degree of empathy (ie putting yourself in another position) to succeed in business but thats absolutely nothing to do with being selfish or selfless. Understanding someone needs means you can either help a person or screw money out of them in other words empathy is morally neutral


In a recent issue of Focus, the BBC's science mag had a study which found one in twenty five people in the business world were psychopaths, four times higher than the general population. :shifty:


Yes, that is mentioned in Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test book. I'll get round to reading that soon.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#6  Postby AlohaChris » Aug 10, 2011 7:34 pm

There are two kinds of psychopath: Those who use threats, assault, rape & murder as their strategies and those who uses accountants, banks, lawyers and elected officals to accomplish their ends. Both will do anything to anybody get what they want at other's expense. Usually only one type ends up in prision.

It's Jeffrey Dhamer vs Ken Lay. Mentally, there's really no difference.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#7  Postby mrjonno » Aug 10, 2011 7:43 pm

Psychopaths are fully capable of empathy they just don't tend to feel the emotions (but understand they are present) that others do.

A good interrogator (or torturer) will known what is going through their victim head they just won't care that much bar using it to get what they want
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#8  Postby NoPast » Aug 10, 2011 8:03 pm

there was a famous study about stock markets......they gave to X random people some real money and told them to "invest" in the Stock exchange

the psycologists who made that study predicted a correlaction between IQ and "success" or at least a link between formal education and the money they made in the stock exchange

nothing of that....Instead they found that people with certain kinds of brain damage in the "empathic" part of the mind may make better investment decisions,because mixing emotion with investing can lead to bad outcomes.

By linking brain science to investment behavior, researchers concluded that people with an impaired ability to experience emotions could actually make better financial decisions than other people under certain circumstances.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#9  Postby MoonLit » Aug 10, 2011 8:24 pm

mrjonno wrote:I would have thought you would need a high degree of empathy (ie putting yourself in another position) to succeed in business but thats absolutely nothing to do with being selfish or selfless. Understanding someone needs means you can either help a person or screw money out of them in other words empathy is morally neutral


They're more likely to be psychopaths I think. They develop this sort of "predator" like behavior in order to screw others over, while lacking much empathy.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#11  Postby noncredo » Aug 11, 2011 6:54 pm

Yes, rich people are terrible and poor people are awesome. If everyone were poor what a wonderfull world this would be. That's why every government should confiscate all the money and burn it, burn down all houses over a predetermined square footage....to be determined by the Committee To End Wealth and Prosperity. All luxury car makers should be shut down and all designer clothing a jewlery destroyed.

My favorite part was...“They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,”...which of course we all know is false. A good work ethic can only lead to sorrow and pain, makes you a tool of the man. Unless it turns you into the man, in which case it robs you of empathy and makes you a horrible human being. Hell, if you're not careful you may become one of these rich people, or worse, you may create a home where your children could become rich, so stop working and stop trying, if not for yourself do it for the children.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#12  Postby THWOTH » Aug 11, 2011 7:19 pm

Three quarters of the UK cabinet are millionaires - but this doesn't mean anything because we're all in it together....

:whistle:

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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#13  Postby Tangerine Dream » Aug 11, 2011 9:07 pm

Image
Image

:scratch:
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#14  Postby noncredo » Aug 11, 2011 9:21 pm

Tangerine Dream wrote:Image
Image

:scratch:

That's just down right pedestrian compared to the gold plated Veyron. http://www.fashion-stylist.net/blog/2009/06/28/the-gold-bugatti-veyron-and-the-bugatti-veyron-fbg-par-hermes/
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#15  Postby cherries » Dec 13, 2011 8:18 pm

:popcorn:
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#16  Postby Lance » Dec 14, 2011 12:59 am

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, 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.

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.
http://www.arkancide.com/psychopathy.htm

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.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#17  Postby cherries » Dec 14, 2011 1:12 am

i've got one point(13) but that's not a proper test,since someone else would have to evaluate it,also i've know several people which fit quite a number of points :ask:
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#18  Postby I'm With Stupid » Dec 14, 2011 3:05 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, and they naturally see the 'losers' as those who are not prepared to do what it takes.

That's slightly deceptive though, since the majority of that 85% are "self-made" through investments, not through starting their own company or coming up with a great business idea. But I do think a lot of it is an ego thing. People like the believe that they achieved all of their success through hard work and sacrifice, rather than through a combination of this, luck, opportunity, and all of the other things that society offers. Of course, the logical conclusion of this thinking is that anyone who didn't achieve the same success simply didn't put the effort in or didn't have the ability. I suspect those that acknowledge the role that society and luck played in their success are more likely to have empathy and also more likely to be in favour of politics that emphasizes social programmes.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#19  Postby Lance » Dec 14, 2011 7:04 am

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.

Of course, these days, being a millionaire is such a big deal. The real wealth is in billionaires. i am sure that is another story.
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Re: Study : Rich Have Less Empathy !

#20  Postby sennekuyl » Dec 14, 2011 7:19 am

:( only 13.
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