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The Almighty Buck Science

Are Rich People Less Moral? 1040

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-begging-the-question-at-all dept.
sciencehabit writes "New research suggests that the upper classes are more likely to behave dishonorably than those lower on the economic spectrum. The rich are more likely to cheat, steal, and even disobey traffic laws than those with less money and power (abstract). Curiously, in one experiment, Prius drivers also behaved badly, regardless of their wealth."
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Are Rich People Less Moral?

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  • by prgrmr (568806) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:30PM (#39178623) Journal
    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
    Napoleon Bonaparte
  • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:35PM (#39178695) Homepage
    That was my assumption, but the study seems to be saying the opposite. Take a person that's poor and make them feel wealthier or more important, and they "begin to behave unethically".
  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:40PM (#39178789)

    Except the research shows that it is precisely being in a higher position which makes you immoral.

    And when you read all those excerpts of bankers whining that their boots are getting insufficiently licked by the rest of society, well, it's tempting to believe this is indeed true.

    Presumably, if being rich was no regarded as saying something about you, but rather an accident of Fortune (which it always is: well off is something you achieve through hard work and ingenuity; rich takes luck) society would be more moral.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:51PM (#39178943)

    Maybe it depends on context too. Ie, in the US if you're really rich a traffic ticket means nothing to you. There's no punitive value to it. So if you're rich and slightly immoral you don't worry about tickets (especially petty stuff like parking tickets), but if you're poor and slightly immoral you still don't want that ticket. However there are countries where traffic ticket fines are determined by your ability to pay. If you're rich you may get a very huge fine big enough to make you sit up and take notice and try not to repeat that mistake.

    In other words, even if everyone has the same level of ethics and morality, it will appear that the rich are less moral just because they're less affected by the penalties.

    Now with things with no financial benefit or penalty it may be more interesting. Ie, cheating at solitaire, cheating at a board game with your friends, fudging your D&D character sheet, etc. Are the rich more likely to do that type of cheating? (especially those who are wealthy but not so wealthy that they just buy new friends)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:54PM (#39178979)

    I have read the original article. It is called "What the Bagle Man Saw." You can read it from the author's site. http://stephenjdubner.com/journalism/bagelman.html

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:30PM (#39179491)

    Sorry, that's not a very good summary of the Terror. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror [wikipedia.org]

    Of the 25K or so executed-- no great number-- I beleive the vast majority were from the First and Second estates, with the peasantry largely absent. Not to mention, we're talking a very small portion of people: Paris was already a city of millions, and only 2,600 or so people were executed there.

  • by I(rispee_I(reme (310391) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:39PM (#39179635) Journal

    At which point, they're no longer rich, right?

    Also, I've heard the "eye of a needle is figurative" argument before- what is the evidence that it wasn't intended literally?

    I mean, presumably they had needles with eyes at the time, or else they wouldn't have used the name for the walled city's door.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:03PM (#39179951)

    Many people are not quite smart enough to understand the 30% rule for mortgage-to-income ratio. They also are not smart enough to understand the interest-only or ARM loan issues. They rely upon a lender or broker to help them understand.

    Normally, lenders have the borrowers interests in mind when making a loan because the lender will hold the loan for many years. However, with Mortgage Backed Securities (bundled home loans), a lender became a reseller of loans instead of a holder of loans. This meant that they no longer had a long term interest in how the borrower fared and instead only had a short term interest in issuing a mortgage... thus many lenders turned to predatory and illegal practices to obtain more borrowers. Many lenders knowingly approved loans that were traditionally deemed very risky, some falsified income verification paperwork, and still overs actively lied to clients and told them that the housing market never goes down and a home is the best investment you can make.

    I'd place the blame at 75% lenders and 25% borrowers. And I don't feel sorry for any lender... they got bailed out. Borrowers, however, got the shaft.

  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:13PM (#39180057) Journal

    The Wikipedia entry disputes this story, saying that while the tale is centuries old, it is unlikely to be true. The source material [biblicalhebrew.com] agrees with this and explains that it really meant the eye of a needle. The camel likely meant the animal, but it could have meant a rope made of camel hair. In either case, it was intended to be an impossibility of getting something through an opening a fraction of an inch in size.

  • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:24PM (#39180799)

    The first of those is misunderstood, the 'eye of the needle' was a term that described that back door to a walled city - the door that would be used after dark when the main gate was closed.

    Another version of this myth still being perpetuated upon the innocent by Sunday school teachers and holy land tour guides. It used to be said (as early as the C15th) that there was a gate in Jerusalem that was called the eye of the needle. Unfortunately the historical and archaeological record reveals no such gate (if memory serves me correctly there were 5 gates in Jerusalem in Jesus' time).

    What you are actually dealing here is either a simple translation error or perhaps a pun and a pun which surprisingly works both in Aramaic (and Hebrew) as well as Greek. GML is both the name for the Hebrew letter (equivalent of G), for a camel and for rope. In Koine Greek the word for 'camel' is kamelos while the word for ship's rope is kamilos. Considering that vowel shift was occurring between iota and eta, the ambiguity was greater in speech.. See also here [biblicalhebrew.com].

    In Aramaic GML is pointed the same way for both as gamla, so when Jesus spoke he literally said "it is easier to thread a ship's rope through the eye of a needle" and "it is easier to force a camel through the eye of a needle," at the same time.

    Moreover if we take this statement together with Luke 6:25; Matt 6:24 (also Luke 16:13); etc. there can be no doubting the import of Jesus' words: If you are rich, if you pursue wealth even, you are fucked for all eternity. ... unless you're like Warren Buffet or something and leave the sweets for the little kids ...

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:02AM (#39184431)

    If God is omnipotent, presumably he intended for people in the future to not be able to understand what his son said.

Our policy is, when in doubt, do the right thing. -- Roy L. Ash, ex-president, Litton Industries

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