People with a few extra bucks just aren't as nice as the rest of us, at least according to a new study.
Rich people are more likely to take candy from children, lie, cheat, endorse unethical behavior at work, and cut off pedestrians while driving, a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.
The report contradicts the notion that poor people are more likely to act unethically out of financial necessity. Instead, the researchers wrote the "relative independence" and "increased privacy" of the wealthy make them more likely to act unethically. They also share "feelings of entitlement and inattention to the consequences of one's actions on others" that may play into their moral decisions.
In one experiment, wealthier people took twice as many candies as poorer people from a jar that had been designated for children. In another study, nearly half of all drivers of expensive cars cut off pedestrians at crosswalks, while no drivers of the cheapest cars and about 30 percent of drivers of cheaper cars did the same thing.
Some of the other experiments indicated that the the rich were more likely to cheat in a game and lie to a potential job applicant about the possibility that their job was being eliminated than their poorer counterparts.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates that the rich tend to be less sensitive than others. The mere mention of money makes people less generous, less helpful and less likely to look for teammates, according to research by Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, cited by The Boston Globe.
In addition, a study by Adam Waytz and Nicholas Epley, professors at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, respectively, found that people with more social connections are more likely to dehumanize others. And a report from researchers at the University of California-Berkeley released in December came to a similar conclusion: That rich people are less likely to feel empathy.