Do the Rich Have Lower Ethics?


Categories: News

A recent study using various tests by the University of California at Berkeley, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicated that upper-class individuals were more likely to have unethical behavior compared to people of lesser means:

“Upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.”

This is an interesting, thought-provoking, and discussion starting study. Was this conducted by a liberal university to add to the 99% occupy Wall Street rhetoric? Are ethics slowly declining in this country? What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Do the Rich Have Lower Ethics?

  1. I would like to know more about the study, in particular, how do the researchers define “upper class”? Perhaps the study included a large sample of the millionaire politicians that occupy Congress, the White House and many of the governors’ mansions across the country . . . In that case, I would agree with the study.

    The affluent (not necessarily the “wealthy”, the “upper class” or the millionaire politicians) are also the crowd that generally gives away a higher percentage of their income to philanthropic organizations . . .

    1. Kent says:

      Reading more about the study, I don’t think all of the tests well defined who were being tested. For example the driving test were people that drove more expensive cars- we all know those less than well off drive luxury brands. Also I think it would be good to include age and other factors too

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