Friday, February 1, 2013

Climbing is Bad for Your Ethics

A study from the University of California concludes that climbing up the wealth hierarchy makes one more clueless.

“Occupying privileged positions in society has this natural psychological effect of insulating you from others,” said psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley. “You’re less likely to perceive the impact your behavior has on others.”

The researches conducted scientific experiments to measure the relationship between socioeconomics (SES) and ethics. They found that rude behavior rose with status, and high-SES drivers were roughly twice as inconsiderate as low-SES drivers. They also found that higher SES people were less likely to be honest, more likely to cheat.

A reviewer of the research said, "This work is important because it suggests that people often act unethically not because they are desperate and in the dumps, but because  they feel entitled and want to get ahead."

According to Piff, unethical behavior in the study was driven by the nature of wealth in a highly stratified society that insulates people from the consequences of their actions.