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Psychologist Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley says the rich really are different, and not in a good way:

His research has yielded the following results.

“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.”

A poor person, has not only walked in your proverbial shoes, they have done it with ratty, and blood soaked socks. Is it any wonder they are more willing to help their fellow man when they can?

“They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,”

In other words, the rich believe that they deserve their wealth, luck plays no role in their limited world view. In reality, luck plays the largest role, the fact that the sperm and egg were fertilized in the US rather than some impoverished village in Africa makes all the difference. The vast majority of the hardest working, and most intelligent people on earth will never attain material success due to environmental circumstances. Being born rich, or in a Western Democracy is an uncontrollable variable.

All of us have had these suspicions about the rich, mostly we just took it on faith, but now there is a science to back it up. Ill take it a step further, and state that Daily Kos readers and writers are probably a bit more empathetic than the average American.

Well, that's all fine and dandy, but how does it affect us:
When we look to congress, we see that almost 50% of all members are millionaires. Only 1% of the general populace has as much wealth as their elected representatives.

Need we continue to wonder for whom they govern?
What Dacher Keltner has "discovered" with science, has been written about and observed by profound thinkers, as one of greatest american authors once wrote.

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Fitzgerald, F. Scott

The press release for Psychological Science is here.

Check it out, free kindle books.

Originally posted to csainvestor on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 03:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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