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 also 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.
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms --- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge --- has marked the upward surge of mankind." ~ Gordon Gekko, 1987
Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on other new research from the University of California, Berkeley collaborating this, and the impact of wealth on people’s behavior in a new 10-minute video from PBS (posted at YouTube)
This might help explain why some people like Wal-Mart's Christy Walton can rake in $1.2 million a day in unearned income with stock dividends, while at the same time, refusing to pay her employees a living wage in earned hourly income --- costing the taxpayers $6,000 per employee in government entitlements (aka "wage subsidies"). It seems that some of these people just can't help themselves...they're mentally ill!
* Download supporting information at www.pnas.org (PDF) --- "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy." (* This was also posted at the www.economicpopulist.org)
Forbes: Why (Some) Psychopaths Make Great CEOs "The incidence of psychopathy among CEOs is about 4 percent, four times what it is in the population at large. They lack the things that make you human: empathy, remorse, loving kindness."
BusinessInsider: 20 Signs You are a Psychopath - After CEOs, lawyers are the second most psychopathic profession in the world.
TIME: Study: 1 in 25 Business Leaders May Be Psychopaths - "Psychopaths, who are characterized by being completely amoral and concerned only with their own power and selfish pleasures, may be over-represented in the business environment."
Forbes: The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths - 1. CEO, 2. Lawyer, 3. Media (Television/Radio), 4. Salesperson, 5. Surgeon, 6. Journalist, 7. Police officer, 8. Clergy person 9. Chef and 10. Civil servant
Bud Meyers: STUDY: 10% on Wall Street are Psychopaths - "Studies conducted by forensic psychologist Robert Hare indicate that about 1 percent of the general population can be categorized as psychopathic, but the prevalence rate in the financial services industry is 10 percent."
Psychologist Paul Piff and related research.
- The strategy of psychopathy: primary psychopathic traits predict defection on low-value relationships Proc R Soc B 2013 280 (1757)20122773
- Reply to Francis: Cumulative power calculations are faulty when based on observed power and a small sample of studies Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2012 109 (25) E1588
- Evidence that publication bias contaminated studies relating social class and unethical behavior Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2012 109(25)E1587
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