Thursday, March 8th, 2012
The more you have, the more you cheat?
A recent research conducted by the psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, linked “money” with “greed”. Finding multimillionaires like Bernard Madoff being involved in fraudulent activities, one wonders if money is ever enough for people. Or is it something rich want more of at any cost? According to this research, people who are socially and financially prosperous are more likely to be involved in making money by any means, including using unethical ways.
Paul Piff, the lead author of this research, used education and income levels to determine participants‘ socioeconomic status. In a series of seven studies, he and his colleagues found that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. Compared to their lower-class counterparts, the upper-class individuals are more greedy and thus are more likely to break the law while driving, lie in a negotiation, cheat to win a prize, and endorse unethical behaviour at work. The authors conclude that “the pursuit of self-interest is a more fundamental motive among society‘s elite, and the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing”. Further, they suggest that “unethical behavior in the service of self-interest that enhances the individual‘s wealth and rank may be a self-perpetuating dynamic that further exacerbates economic disparities in society”. So, it seems that rich people are more likely to behave unethically to sustain or increase their amount of wealth. Or, is it that greedy individuals also tend to accumulate more and thus become rich?