Turns out the rich really are different. But not necessarily in the ways we assume.
Though economically privileged, people from upper-class backgrounds consistently display deficits in empathy, social engagement, generosity and sensitivity as compared to those from the lower classes.
The differences in behaviour are so marked, in fact, that naive observers are able to detect a person’s socioeconomic background based on 60 seconds of interaction.
The findings, published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, have researchers concluding that wealth comes at considerable personal cost – and that being poor isn’t without its wages.
“There’s this sense among people that all problems reside in the lower classes,” says report coauthor Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley.
“While some of that is true – they are more prone to diseases of every kind, and suffer health problems because of the difficulties in their lives – the research also points to all these wonderful strengths: greater empathy, greater altruism, greater sensitivity to others and greater attunement to the social world.”