Research: Money Makes People Meaner

The pursuit of wealth is many times portrayed on TV and in movies as something evil, as if money had the ability to turn people into greedy and self-centered individuals. As it seems, there might be a grain of truth to that after a recent research conducted by Paul Piff, an American social psychologist.

Piff is an assistant professor at the University of California and for about a decade he has been focusing on relations between money and human emotions. Recently, he revealed that having more money triggers self-interest in people, making them less concerned about the needs of others, while putting their own interest in the first place.

Focusing on your own interest and your own wellbeing has an ability to isolate people from one another, as pointed out by Piff for an interview for BBC. To support his argument, Piff decided to come up with a simple experiment. In Los Angeles, he decided to go back and forth the pedestrian crossing and see whether it would be the rich or the poor ones more likely to stop for pedestrians.

In his findings, he revealed that none of the drivers of the less expensive cars broke the law by not letting a pedestrian pass, whereas almost 50% of the drivers of expensive cars did. As pointed out by the BBC, this finding goes against the popular perception of poor people as being more likely to break the law, as they find themselves in difficult financial situations.

In this case, according to Piff’s findings, the rich are many times more likely to go against the law, as mostly their own interests are primary to them. In other psychological experiments, Piff discovered that rich people were also more likely to cheat in board games, more likely to eat candy stored for children and overall less likely to give up their time to help others.

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