Deserving Dollars

Who deserves to win at life?  According to a series of studies, rich people do—at least according to rich people.  Wait just a minute!  What does that mean?  Doesn’t everyone believe they deserve to win and prosper?  Apparently not, if you believe these controversial studies.


Who deserves to win? The rich believe they do.
Image: Shutterstock

In one California study, people driving luxury cars were less likely to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks than those driving budget branded cars.  Those driving cars like Porches and Mercedes were more than four times more likely to break the law than others.

Paul Piff, of the University of California at Berkeley, tested theories along similar lines.  He wondered whether people with more money acted differently than those with less.

In a series of studies he conducted, people were placed in a room with a bowl of candy on the table.

They were told the candy in the bowl was for another study involving children.  However, they were invited to take some if they wanted to.  Wealthier people took two times more candy from the kids’ dish compared to poor participants.

Piff went on to test honesty when playing dice.  What he found is that people at the top of the pay scale lied four times more often about their scores.

The study about social class really angered people, since the people running the study got a lot of vitriolic emails and letters.  The researchers were accused of “junk science” and having a liberal agenda since they were from Berkeley.  The critics said they just found what they expected to find.

However, the researchers said they did not expect to find what they did.  In fact, they went a step further to test out what would happen if people just felt rich.  They rigged a monopoly game to test whether their hypothesis might result in similar findings.  It did.

The rich player, randomly assigned by coin toss, was afforded many luxuries.  They got to toss two dice instead of one and got the Rolls Royce as their playing piece instead of the old shoe.  They started out with two thousand in the bank instead of one, and they collected more when they passed go.

When asked afterward whether each player felt they deserved to win, the rich player always said they did.

This says a lot when linked to the way in which our society is becoming ever more divided along monetary lines.  Of course this does not apply to all rich or poor people.  Many billionaires such as Warren Buffett have pledged to give away most of their money.  Still, it gives some amazing insight into the ways people think and why they do the things they do.


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