Sadly, evidence proves privilege breeds corruption.

It is convenient to assume that people without resources are prone to unethical behaviour, especially if you’ve got lots of stuff.  You might imagine that someone who lives in a cardboard box is likely to steal, simply because they need to eat.

But the opposite is true.  If you’ve got the stuff, prepared to be guilt tripped.  The richer you are, the more likely you have shallow ethics.  That doesn’t mean everyone is like that, in fact most philanthropy comes from the wealthy (they’re more able to give too), but it does show that, as a group, the rich/powerful/privileged tend to behave less ethically.  The richer you are the more you are likely to steal, lie and cheat.

Well, maybe that’s news to people who live modest lives.  But for the rest of us who can’t get enough stuff from the latest phone to car to fashion, we might not be as lovely as we think we are.  That’s the truth.

This is one summary of empirical (scientific) evidence:

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

The psychological consequences of money.

Power, Distress, and Compassion – Turning a Blind Eye to the Suffering of Others

Social Class as Culture – The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm

Social Class, Sense of Control, and Social Explanation

Class and compassion: socioeconomic factors predict responses to suffering.

Warm glow and charitable giving: Why the wealthy do not give more to charity?

 

Average America vs the One Percent

The greedy, filthy millionaires

The real ‘1 percent’

For the Love Of Money: Wealth and Compassion

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