New Study Finds that Rich People are More Likely to Lie and Cheat

 Bloomberg (yes, the same Bloomberg news outlet owned by multibillionaire New York City mayor, because you can't make this stuff up) reports that a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the "upper class"--their words--are more likely to behave unethically than those of us with less money. 

Elizabeth Lopatto at Bloomberg wrote:

The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, researchers reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Taken together, the experiments suggest at least some wealthier people “perceive greed as positive and beneficial,” probably as a result of education, personal independence and the resources they have to deal with potentially negative consequences, the authors wrote. 

Take candy from children? Really now, guys, shouldn't there be limits? 

The tests used in the study ranged from studying video to see whether people obeyed traffic laws--those with more expensive cars were less likely to do so--to having people interview a potential job candidate for a short-term job. In the job-seeking case, the participants were told that the job would shortly be eliminated, but the wealthier participants were less likely to tell the candidate that the job wouldn't last. 

One more test had participants playing a game in which a computer rolled dice for them, for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. The wealthier participants once again were more likely to lie about their score, even though the prize was comparatively less to them. 

“A $50 prize is a measly sum to people who make $250,000 a year,” one of the study authors told Bloomberg. “So why are they more inclined to cheat? For a person with lower socioeconomic status, that $50 would get you more, and the risks are small.” 

If the rich are more likely to lie and cheat for a tiny prize, why do so many still have a hard time believing that the Wall Streeters who helped crash the economy knew that they were doing something wrong? 

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at February 27, 2012, 12:09pm

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