Thursday, March 1, 2012

The trouble with greed

On Monday,  the National Academy of Sciences published the results of a series of studies conducted by psychologists from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Toronto that found what many of us already knew: Greed is in fact quite bad, and those most likely to celebrate it find it easier to lie, cheat and, yes—even take candy from a baby—than the less materially driven among us.

The researchers—who were led by a Berkeley doctoral candidate named Paul Piff—conducted seven individual experiments in an effort to determine what effect, if any, social status has on ethical behavior. Piff and his colleagues used a standard gauge of socioeconomic status based on wealth, occupational prestige and education to show, among other things, that people from higher income groups are far more likely to drive aggressively, cheat at games of chance, behave underhandedly in business negotiations, and, when given the opportunity, take things that don’t belong to them.

“I think that, in general, as a person’s station in society increases, that is, as their position in the socioeconomic hierarchy increases, their self-focused tendencies also increase,” said Piff. “The more wealth and status a person has, the more likely they are to see themselves as deserving of that status, perhaps even entitled, independent of others, powerful, and so forth.”  Click here to read at The Philly Post