Research: Rich People Are More Entitled and More Likely To Lie, Cheat, and Steal

Research has found that power and wealth make people more unethical and immoral.

While many of us enjoy watching TV shows and films about wealthy families and their chaotic lives, we do so with the belief that reality is very different from what we see on television. Now, however, research finds that the drama we see in Gossip Girl, Dynasty, Elite, etc. might not be entirely fictional. According to the Daily Mail, psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner and his colleague Paul Piff have ‘spent decades studying wealth, power, and privilege, co-authoring pioneering research to assess the difference in how the rich and the poor deal with various social situations’. Speaking to the Washington Post, Dr. Keltner explained that belonging to a higher social class is linked to increased unethical behavior as he stated:

To researchers who study wealth and power, it’s dismaying but not surprising, because it tracks so closely with our findings. […] The effect of power is sadly one of the most reliable laws of human behaviour.

Dr. Keltner

Drivers in expensive cars are four times more likely to ignore rules.

One of Dr. Keltner’s experiments included placing researchers at a busy four-way intersection and analyzing which cars cut drivers off. The Business Insider reported that according to the experiment’s results, people in more expensive cars are ‘four times more likely to ignore the right-of-way laws than those driving cheaper and older cars’. Similarly, Dr. Keltner also had a researcher pretend to cross the street to see which cars would stop. As expected, only half of the expensive cars stopped.

It told us that there’s something about wealth and privilege that makes you feel like you’re above the law, that allows you to treat others like they don’t exist.

Dr. Keltner

Surprisingly, it was also found that richer people are more likely to take sweets from children.

Dr. Keltner and Piff conducted further research as they carried out an experiment in which 129 subjects compared their finances to people who had more or less money than them. Following this, they were given a candy jar which was to be given to children in a neighboring lab and they were told that they could take some sweets if they wanted to. It was found that those who felt richer after comparing their finances took more candy for themselves.

Wealth is basically a mechanism for power, and power has a freeing effect on people. It takes away the constraints of society and frees people to act according to their dominant desires.

Adam Galinsky

In addition to these experiments, it was also found that those who are categorically wealthier, richer, and more powerful are also more likely to be unfaithful in love and cheat on their taxes.

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