The rich have fewer scruples
7 March 2012
Political elites have a different ethical perspective from others according to recent research ( see a posting last week Falling from Grace ).
Being wealthy causes people to have less concern for the law, to be more likely to act unethically, and even to purloin sweets they were asked to deliver to children. If you are rich you are likely to be afflicted with the Gordon Gecko syndrome and accept that greed is good, research this week suggests.
Researchers at Berkeley and Toronto Universities found that people driving expensive cars – and the affluently dressed – show much less concern for drivers in bangers and for pedestrians. And apparently if you see yourself as upper class you are more likely to lie and cheat and to help yourself to gifts intended for others according to a media report of British research.
“The reason for this was not necessarily their class, but the fact they agreed with Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko that greed is good. When the researchers examined the connection between beliefs about greed and unethical behaviour, they found that class was no longer a significant variable. In other words, rich people tended to take advantage of others primarily because they saw selfish and greedy behaviour as acceptable, and just because they had more money or higher status” if Time magazine is to be believed
But greed affects us all. When poorer volunteers were asked to think of ways that greed could be beneficial, their ideas were as unethical as the wealthy test group.