"The rich are different from you and me" F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, and it turns out that it is true: they are selfish and disconnected:
Brian Alexander via MSNBC
Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.
In fact, he says, the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class “ideology of self-interest.”
“We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”
In an academic version of a Depression-era Frank Capra movie, Keltner and co-authors of an article called “Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm,” published this week in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, argue that “upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self….”
In other words, rich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,” said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.
“I will quote from the Tea Party hero Ayn Rand: “‘It is the morality of altruism that men have to reject,’” he said.
Perhaps this is why we are involved in austerity programs instead of a massive jobs initiative: the rich are running everything.