There are good reasons why wealthy people are often reluctant to support policies, and political parties, that aim to distribute wealth more widely. For one thing, it isn’t in their short-term self-interest (as their taxes would likely rise). For another, it goes against the conservative ideology many of them hold (which equates poverty with laziness or a lack of moral character).
Newly published research has identified yet another, even more basic explanation of why, in spite of the disturbing rise in income inequality, they tend to support the status quo. Their friends and acquaintances tend to inhabit the same economic strata as themselves, so a quick survey of their social circles suggests everything is just fine.
“Wealthier people tend to estimate that higher incomes are more common, and lower incomes less common, in the wider population,” writes a research team led by University of Kent psychologist Rael Dawtry. “As a result, as people’s own wealth increases, they tend to perceive higher mean levels of wealth in society.”
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