Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mine. You can't have any....

We've all suspected the results of this study. Everyone's been cut off by that $80,000 Audi or Mercedes. And, of course, if you've paid any attention at all to the culture and political cold war going on in our society, it's plain as the middle-to-lower class nose on your face: The rich are schmucks.

According to a study just released by Bloomberg:
Wealthy More Likely to Lie, Cheat 
“Are society’s most noble actors found within society’s nobility?” 
That question spurred Paul Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, to explore whether higher social class is linked to higher ideals, he said in a telephone interview. 
The answer Piff found after conducting seven different experiments is: no. The pursuit of self-interest is a “fundamental motive among society’s elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” Piff and his colleagues wrote yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, the research found. The solution, Piff said, is to find a way to increase empathy among wealthier people.
Let me repeat that: rich people are more likely to take candy from children. Or, metaphorically speaking, the wealthy right wingers (and many democrats) in Congress are only too happy to deny assistance to those in need. This, I believe, explains everything.
(sources: opensecrets.org and fanpop

More on the study's methods that revealed how the wealthy are challenged when it comes to ethics, but not so much when it comes to being selfish pricks:

Ethics Courses
Previous research has shown that students who take economics classes are more likely to describe greed as good. Pairing ethics courses with economics may be beneficial, Piff said.
“It might be as simple as not only stressing individual performance, but the value of cooperation and improving the welfare of others,” he said. “That goes a long way.”
In the research reported yesterday, the experiments suggest at least some wealthier people “perceive greed as positive and beneficial,” probably as a result of education, personal independence and the resources they have to deal with potentially negative consequences, the authors wrote. 
While the tests measured only “minor infractions,” that factor made the results “even more surprising,” Piff said. 
One experiment invited 195 adults recruited using Craigslist to play a game in which a computer “rolled dice” for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. The numbers each participant rolled were the same; anyone self-reporting a total higher than 12 was lying about their score. Those in wealthier groups were found to be more likely to fib, Piff said. 
Risks of Cheating 
“A $50 prize is a measly sum to people who make $250,000 a year,” he said in a telephone interview. “So why are they more inclined to cheat? For a person with lower socioeconomic status, that $50 would get you more, and the risks are small.” 
Poorer participants may be less likely to cheat because they must rely more on their community to get by, and thus are more likely adhere to community standards, Piff said. By comparison, “upper-class individuals are more self-focused, they privilege themselves over others, and they engage in self- interested patterns of behavior,” he said. 
In the traffic tests, about one-third of drivers in higher- status cars cut off other drivers at an intersection watched by the researchers, about double those in less costly cars. Additionally, almost half of the more expensive cars didn’t yield when a pedestrian entered the crosswalk while all of the lowest-status cars let the pedestrian cross. These experiments involved 426 vehicles. 
Employment Test
Another test asked 108 adults found through Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) work-recruiting website Mechanical Turk to assume the role of an employer negotiating a salary with someone seeking long-term employment. They were told several things about the job, including that it would soon be eliminated. Upper-class individuals were more likely not to mention to the job-seeker the temporary nature of the position, the research found.
“Support for free-market capitalism will collapse if those who do well don’t do good,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “Rapacious, intolerant, nonempathetic capitalism that says lie, cheat, steal, it’s only the bottom line that matters -- aside from being morally repugnant, it’s got a dim future.”

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