Via New York Magazine, money is all around us, yet, until recently, there has been little study of its psychological effect on humans. The results are now coming in, and they’re not good:
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Earlier this year, [psychologist Paul] Piff, who is 30, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that made him semi-famous. Titled “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior,” it showed through quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations, and field studies that living high on the socioeconomic ladder can make people less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people. It can make them more likely, as Piff demonstrated in one of his experiments, to take candy from a bowl of sweets designated for children.
Piff is one of a new generation of scientists—psychologists, economists, marketing professors, and neurobiologists—who are exploiting this moment of unprecedented income inequality to explore behaviors like those.