The rich lie and cheat more

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The rich lie and cheat more

Cheating, cheating or lying: These negative qualities are often brought up to socially disadvantaged people like Hartz IV recipients at the regulars' table or in the tabloids. Those who earn a lot of money and belong to the so-called upper class, on the other hand, enjoy a lot of recognition. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found during a study that wealthy and rich people lie and cheat much more often than people with less income. The anti-social behavior is particularly noticeable in road traffic: There many rich people would "behave like the ax in the forest" and often disregard traffic rules.

Little respect for traffic
When it comes to morality and legal beliefs, a scientific study by the University of California says that upper-class people are less considerate than people with low or medium incomes. In order to arrive at this result, the PNAS observed the behavior in road traffic of higher earners. For the most part, members of the upper classes drove faster and larger cars than others. During the observation period, the drivers of the vehicles mostly showed less consideration for the other road users and more often disregarded the traffic regulations.

During the course of the study, the scientists tested the behavior of the test subjects in road traffic. The research group positioned itself at a busy intersection. Drivers must stop there as the right of way is regulated with a stop sign. In the course of the research, the researchers noted the cars, which nevertheless refused to give the other participants the right of way and continued without stopping. The cars were categorized by brand, age and condition. The scientists also estimated the age and gender of the driver.

Luxury class drivers often refused to allow pedestrians to cross the street
The evaluation of the data showed that above all drivers of the upper class disregarded the right of way significantly more often than other drivers. Another experimental setup showed that luxury cars at pedestrian crossings more often refused to allow pedestrians to cross than people in smaller makes who appeared to be less well off.

Self-assessment of social and financial status The results of the first two test series were not sufficient to reach a final result. Therefore, the researchers started further tests to back up the existing data. In another study, they had student test subjects perform a few specified tasks on the computer. One of the tasks was to practice self-assessment. Students should rate their economic and social position on a scale of 1 to 10 and then compare them to the average of all US residents. The researchers wanted to use this to derive how the test subjects view themselves economically, possibly feel better or worse than others, and what basic attitude they adopted for this.

Rich people ate the candies from children
In the second part of the study structure, the scientists estimated a supposed break. In fact, the break was part of the observation. A glass of candy was draped in the middle of the break room. The researchers said to the subjects that the treats were actually intended for children in an adjoining room who were taking part in another study. But whoever wants can use it calmly. Afterwards, the researchers left the room to let the students do the rest. After a few minutes, the psychologists entered the room again and asked for the supposed second part of the study.

On average, those who had assigned themselves to a higher shift in the first test run had taken more sweets than those who felt that they belonged to a middle or lower shift. Other series of tests showed that the wealthy students more often said and cheated the truth when it came to winning money in a game.

Positive relationship with greed
As reasons for the non-social behavior, the research group's psychologists cite that people with a higher income have a different relationship to “greed”. Values ​​such as solidarity and or humanity seem to play a subordinate role among those affected. As a rule, they feel "nothing bad about eating what they want". In doing so, the boundaries of fellow human beings are partly exceeded and violated laws, morals and rules, as study director Paul Piff summarized. The rich study participants had stated in the self-analysis, for example, that "greed" was a rather positive characteristic. If lower-class participants were made to see “greed” as something positive, “the chances of cheating, cheating and lying also increased.” The significant differences could not be explained by age, ethnic origin, religious affiliation or political attitude, as it says in the study report.

"Everyone has felt greed in their lives," says Piff. However, according to the results, the frequency of feeling is not evenly distributed in all social milieus. "For people with a high income, asserting their own interests is a basic prerequisite for success". Those who have a high income continuously develop new desires for more wealth. The researchers suspect that this circumstance further promotes misconduct. (sb)

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