Are Rich People Unethical?

rockin'robin

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At last, an explanation for Wall Street's disgrace, Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and other high-society crimes and misdemeanors: A new study published in the Proceedings of that National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people were more apt to behave unethically than those who had less money.

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person's rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.

"We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see greed and self-interest … as good pursuits," said Paul Piff, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. "This resonates with a lot of current events these days."

In the first of two studies, researchers found that those who drove more expensive cars (an admittedly questionable indicator of economic worth) were more likely to cut off other cars and pedestrians at a busy San Francisco four-way intersection than those who drove older, less-expensive vehicles.

In other experiments, wealthier study participants were more likely to admit they would behave unethically in a variety of situations and lie during negotiations. In another, researchers found wealthier people were more likely to cheat in an online game to win a $50 prize.

Greed is a "robust" determinant of unethical behavior, according to the study.

"This has some pretty clear implications," said Piff. "Inequality is very much on Americans' minds, and the potential effects of severe inequality on individual levels of behavior are major."

Large sums of money may give people greater feelings of entitlement, causing those people to be the most averse to wealth distribution, Piff continued. Poorer people may be less likely to cheat, because they are more dependent on their community at large, he said. In other words, they don't want to rock the boat.

"People in power who are more inclined to behave unethically in the service of gains and self-interest can have great effects on society as a whole," said Piff.

And it's difficult to say whether richer people get to the top because of their unethical behavior or whether wealth causes people to become this way. "It seems like a vicious cycle," he said.

Nevertheless, Piff said these results obviously don't apply to all wealthy people. He noted that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were among the wealthiest people in the world and also the most philanthropic. He also pointed to high rates of violent crime in the poorest neighborhoods in the country that counteract the study's findings.

Piff said he hoped to further his research by figuring out ways to curb these patterns of behavior among wealthier individuals.

"What it comes down to, really, is that money creates more of a self-focus, which may account for larger feelings of entitlement," said Piff. "We hope to further study how we can curb these patterns and how that will affect our social environment."

Are Rich People Unethical? - Yahoo! News
 

dereksbicycles

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THe sad thing is that some rich people have cheated their way on to the top. Ya know the old saying---once a cheater, always a cheater.
 

Beowulf

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Are rich people unethical? In general, yes, sad to say.
 

rolling7

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In what way are they unethical? Anything they do that is illegal must be punished just like the rest of us. If this unethical/ethical is only in the eyes of the beholder, too bad! A much as I hate Bill Gates as a person, I know he has done nothing illegal and my opinion of unethical is mine alone. So I have no right to publicly declare him "unethical"
 

DeafCaroline

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In what way are they unethical? Anything they do that is illegal must be punished just like the rest of us. If this unethical/ethical is only in the eyes of the beholder, too bad! A much as I hate Bill Gates as a person, I know he has done nothing illegal and my opinion of unethical is mine alone. So I have no right to publicly declare him "unethical"

So unethical should automatically mean illegal?
 

SneakerNet

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What! I'm no unethical! Wondering if rich deaf people do similar act as hearing people?
 

lucas

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rich people and unethical go hand in hand. Especialy with regards to politics and buisness. Its a cut throat world out there and the nice guy really does finish last. Your gona have to step on a few toes whiling climbing to the top and its much easier when u have money to buy lawyers and bribe your way out of trouble.
 

rolling7

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So unethical should automatically mean illegal?

That is up to you to say. For me, it depends......something I say is unethical might not be illegal. IMO the law makes things illegal but only I make things unethical, in otherwords two people my disagree on what is unethical. But the law is the law.
 

cmdrwhitewolf

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Like I've always said, "All is fair in Love, War, and Business." I say that because that is what I have observed in other people, particularly the business part. Plus, through painful personal experience I know how unethical AND unlawful wealthy can be when given the chance.

Their like the monster from the movie Alien being left 'innocently' sitting in the chicken coop while hungry, and just waiting for the moment when nobody is watching...
 

Grayma

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In the first of two studies, researchers found that those who drove more expensive cars (an admittedly questionable indicator of economic worth) were more likely to cut off other cars and pedestrians at a busy San Francisco four-way intersection than those who drove older, less-expensive vehicles.


Are Rich People Unethical? - Yahoo! News

Very questionable indicator of economic worth. In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the author found that millionaires are more likely to drive older, less-expensive cars. The people living in the fancy houses and driving the expensive cars are mostly not the millionaires, but the people carrying massive debt-loads.
 

whatdidyousay!

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What! I'm no unethical! Wondering if rich deaf people do similar act as hearing people?

HUH! Waht do you mean by this?"Wondering if rich deaf people do similar act as hearing people?" What does hearing have to do with this??



I know plenty of people that are not rich and but they're unethical. I am so sick of all this generalization!
 

Reba

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There are ethical and unethical people in every income bracket. It's just more expensive, dramatic and newsworthy when a wealthy person is found to be crooked.

Also, unethical behavior isn't limited to business transactions.
 

Ausrider

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There are ethical and unethical people in every income bracket. It's just more expensive, dramatic and newsworthy when a wealthy person is found to be crooked.

Also, unethical behavior isn't limited to business transactions.

I agree with Reba, rich people make better headlines thats why we hear so much about them.
 

robsteel

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Ethics and the law are different things.

for example. I believe it is unethical to protest at the soldiers funeral about how much "God hates fags" but it is not illegal to do so.

I believe that it is unethical to replace working people with self checkout machines. Why? one more person has one less job. But it isnt illegal to do that.

So what about rich people?

Is it unethical that you have worked for me for 10 years and never recieved a raise? It certainly isnt illegal because I pay $1 above minimum wage. You see driving to the office in my Lexus while you have been catching the bus since you starting working for me. Your labor has helped me put all my kids in great colleges while your kids were lucky just to graudate high school.
 
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