Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior: study

Upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lowerclass individuals
Are Rich People Unethical?

Which social class is the more likely provenance of unethical behavior, the upper class or the lower class? Scientists at  the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person’s rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.

The new study published in the Proceedings of that National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people  were more apt to behave  unethically than those who had less money.

In the first of two studies, wealthier study participants were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to
lower-class individuals. In other experiments, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize, and endorse unethical behavior at work than were lowerclass individuals.

Rich people‘s unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

“We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see  greed and self-interest … as  good pursuits,” said Paul Piff to abcNews, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. “This resonates with a lot of current events these days.”

Nevertheless, Piff said these results obviously don’t apply to all wealthy people. He noted that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were among the wealthiest people in the world and also the most philanthropic. He also pointed to high rates of violent crime in the poorest neighborhoods in the country that counteract the study’s findings.