Rich people are more likely to cheat on their partners, steal and drive recklessly because ‘wealth makes you feel above the law’, scientists say
Dailymail.UK: The wealthiest among us are also the most likely to steal, drive reckless, lie, cheat on their partners and ignore the needs of poorer people, scientists say.
According to a renowned psychologist from the University of California, Berkeley, belonging to a higher social class is a predictor of increased unethical behaviour.In fact, the negative impact of wealth and power is ‘one of the most reliable laws of human behaviour’, he said.
The new comments come as Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, endures a trial that alleges he defrauded banks, dodged taxes and bought $15,000 (£11,800) ostrich and python jackets with money from unregistered work for foreign governments – behaviour that does not surprise psychologists.
Dr Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, this week told The Washington Post that belonging to a higher social class predicts increased unethical behaviour.
He said: ‘To researchers who study wealth and power, it’s dismaying but not surprising, because it tracks so closely with our findings.’The effect of power is sadly one of the most reliable laws of human behaviour.’
Dr Keltner has spent decades studying wealth, power and privilege, co-authoring pioneering research to assess the difference in how the rich and the poor deal with various social situations.
He conducted seven experiments that found upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to win, and are also more inclined to endorse unethical behaviour at work.
The research, published in PNAS revealed the ‘unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favourable attitudes toward greed’, Dr Keltner and his colleague, a then-graduate student called Paul Piff, wrote in their paper. In one of the experiments, the researchers positioned themselves at a busy junction and noted the cars that cut drivers off, rather than waiting their turn. The researchers found drivers in more expensive cars were four times more likely to ignore the laws than those in more reasonably priced vehicles.