Photo: Mahalie Stackpole on Flickr
In this month New York Magazine’s cover story, Lisa Miller mentions several studies that argue money really is the root of all evil, turning people into incompassionate, inhumane, selfish individuals. In one study published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” psychologist Paul Piff tells Miller that people “living high on the socioeconomic ladder can, colloquially speaking, dehumanize people” and are “less compassionate than other people.”
The psychologist designed several experiments including one with two players competing against one another in the game Monopoly. In this experiment, one player unfairly gets the upper hand on his competitor. There is actually no chance for his competitor to win because of the way the rules are set up. As the game goes on, the player with the upper hand begins to feel more comfortable with his good fortune and starts to act in a belligerent manner.
“Putting someone in a role where they’re more privileged and have more power in a game makes them behave like people who actually do have more power, more money, and more status,” Piff says.
“While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritise their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, arseholes.”
Miller mentions another study published in the journal “Science” that said people with more money were less emotional and experienced less physical pain than those who were not as financially well off.
Researcher Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, found that people with more money were able to keep their hand under burning-hot water longer and feel less emotional distress when excluded from a ball-tossing game.
”Money brings you into functionality mode. When that gets applied to other people, things get mucked up,” Vohs tells Miller. “You can get things done, but it does come at the expense of people’s feelings or caring about them as individuals.”
What do you think? Do you think Miller’s arguments are valid, and do you think people with more money are less humane than those not as financially fortunate? You can let us know in the comments section below.
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