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  1. Standard member Soothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    10 Aug '11 18:16
    From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44084236/ns/health-behavior/#.TkLELOYW32c

    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.

    Whether or not Keltner is right, there certainly is a “let them eat cake” vibe in the air. Last week The New York Times reported on booming sales of luxury goods, with stores keeping waiting lists for $9,000 coats and the former chairman of Saks saying, “If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?”

    According to Gallup, Americans earning more than $90,000 per year continued to increase their consumer spending in July while middle- and lower-income Americans remained stalled, even as the upper classes argue that they can’t pay any more taxes. Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us continues to grow wider, with over 80 percent of the nation’s financial wealth controlled by about 20 percent of the people.

    Unlike the rich, lower class people have to depend on others for survival, Keltner argued. So they learn “prosocial behaviors.” They read people better, empathize more with others, and they give more to those in need.

    That’s the moral of Capra movies like “You Can’t Take It With You,” in which a plutocrat comes to learn the value of community and family. But Keltner, author of the book “Born To Be Good: The Science of A Meaningful Life,” doesn’t rely on sentiment to make his case.

    He points to his own research and that of others. For example, lower class subjects are better at deciphering the emotions of people in photographs than are rich people.

    In video recordings of conversations, rich people are more likely to appear distracted, checking cell phones, doodling, avoiding eye contact, while low-income people make eye contact and nod their heads more frequently signaling engagement.

    In one test, for example, Keltner and other colleagues had 115 people play the “dictator game,” a standard trial of economic behavior. “Dictators” were paired with an unseen partner, given ten “points” that represented money, and told they could share as many or as few of the points with the partner as they desired. Lower-class participants gave more even after controlling for gender, age or ethnicity.

    Keltner has also studied vagus nerve activation. The vagus nerve helps the brain record and respond to emotional inputs. When subjects are exposed to pictures of starving children, for example, their vagus nerve typically becomes more active as measured by electrodes on their chests and a sensor band around their waists. In recent tests, yet to be published, Keltner has found that those from lower-class backgrounds have more intense activation.

    Other studies from other researchers have not produced the clear-cut results Keltner uses to advance his argument. In surveys of charitable giving, some show that low-income people give more, but other studies show the opposite.

    “The research regarding income and helping behaviors has always been little bit mixed,” explained Meredith McGinley, a professor of psychology at Pittsburgh’s Chatham University.

    Then there is the problem of Tea Partiers’ own class position. While they are funded by the wealthy, many do not identify themselves as wealthy (though there is dispute on the real demographics). Still, a strong allegiance to the American Dream can lead even regular folks to overestimate their own self-reliance in the same way as rich people.

    As behavioral economist Mark Wilhelm of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis pointed out, most people could quickly tell you how much they paid in taxes last year but few could put a dollar amount on how they benefited from government by, say, driving on interstate highways, taking drugs gleaned from federally funded medical research, or using inventions created by people educated in public schools.

    There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal.

    The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Unequal distribution of wealth undermines the foundations of democracy, so one might say the article does not proffer any observations that many of us do not already know. No matter what the apologists might say, this much is a statistical fact: warped wealth distribution leads to a sadder world.
  2. 10 Aug '11 18:37
    Well, duh. I think it was Fitzgerald who wrote, "the rich are different from us. They have more money."

    It certainly does undermine James Madison's concept of the "virtuous citizen."

    Obviously the accumulation of wealth would correlate with the ability to sleep at night with certain baggage.

    Of course, some will read the post to suggest that the rich are bad people and such. That's not the point. But it does suggest that we need more, not less, regulation. "That which governs least governs best" was based on a pipe dream.
  3. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    10 Aug '11 19:53
    For the rich, people are in the way. For the poor, people are the most important part of the environment, both a threat and a resource.
  4. 10 Aug '11 20:09
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    For the rich, people are in the way. For the poor, people are the most important part of the environment, both a threat and a resource.
    For the rich, people are not in the way. For the rich, people are irrelevant.
  5. 10 Aug '11 20:19
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    For the rich, people are not in the way. For the rich, people are irrelevant.
    Well, it depends. If people start voting, and acting up, they're in the way.
  6. 10 Aug '11 20:30
    It is amazing to me how much hatred there is for the people who contribue the most to our society. Maybe it is simply a lack of appreciation for the sacrifice it takes to be sucessful. If I paid half of my money to the incompetent government that we have for programs that benefits others, I wouldn't look to pay more and I wouldn't look to expand government's roll in society. To me selfish and lack of empathy is the people who continually want those who pay the most in dollars to continually pay even more in percentage term while advocating that they do not pay a penny more.
  7. 10 Aug '11 20:33
    Originally posted by quackquack
    It is amazing to me how much hatred there is for the people who contribue the most to our society. Maybe it is simply a lack of appreciation for the sacrifice it takes to be sucessful. If I paid half of my money to the incompetent government that we have for programs that benefits others, I wouldn't look to pay more and I wouldn't look to expand gover ...[text shortened]... tinually pay even more in percentage term while advocating that they do not pay a penny more.
    I know. Those poor oppressed rich people. It must be rough not getting the recognition you deserve for being born into wealth. And then we publish studies which suggest they aren't the empathetic. We're so mean to them!
  8. 10 Aug '11 21:02
    Originally posted by Kunsoo
    I know. Those poor oppressed rich people. It must be rough not getting the recognition you deserve for being born into wealth. And then we publish studies which suggest they aren't the empathetic. We're so mean to them!
    I never said anything about you being mean to rich people.
    You presume everyone was born into being wealthy (which is obviously inaccurate). It is probably more accurate to presume that most people work hard for whatever money they have.
  9. 10 Aug '11 21:23 / 1 edit
    What a piece of crap that article was. He quoted research that hasn't even been published yet, let alone reviewed by Keltner's peers. Then he uses a game where you're supposed to give away some of your money to show that rich people care less. It could just as easily show that poor people make worse decisions with their money. Where are the studies that compare decision making abilities between socioeconomic backgrounds? That might actually be useful. How about a study comparing knowledge of basic budgeting? Instead he tells us something everyone already knows: The rich are stingy, cheapskates, tighta##es, they squeak when they walk. How do you think they got rich (the ones that didn't inherit it)? Help the people who need help figure out better ways to take care of the money they have, not hate the people who have more of it.
  10. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    10 Aug '11 21:40
    Originally posted by quackquack
    It is amazing to me how much hatred there is for the people who contribue the most to our society. Maybe it is simply a lack of appreciation for the sacrifice it takes to be sucessful. If I paid half of my money to the incompetent government that we have for programs that benefits others, I wouldn't look to pay more and I wouldn't look to expand gover ...[text shortened]... tinually pay even more in percentage term while advocating that they do not pay a penny more.
    Being personally wealthy is not a "contribution to society". Get over yourself.
  11. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    10 Aug '11 21:41
    Originally posted by dryhump
    What a piece of crap that article was. He quoted research that hasn't even been published yet, let alone reviewed by Keltner's peers. Then he uses a game where you're supposed to give away some of your money to show that rich people care less. It could just as easily show that poor people make worse decisions with their money. Where are the studies that ...[text shortened]... ut better ways to take care of the money they have, not hate the people who have more of it.
    The wealthy people who didn't inherit their money are a bunch of liberals!
  12. 10 Aug '11 22:04
    Originally posted by dryhump
    It could just as easily show that poor people make worse decisions with their money.
    That would be the less empathetic way of looking at it. The poor are too generous with their money. It's been argued before.
  13. 10 Aug '11 22:58
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Being personally wealthy is not a "contribution to society". Get over yourself.
    I never said or implied that being wealthy is a contribution to society. Although with the exception of criminal enterprises, people who have jobs and get compensated normally people things that society wants and that is contributing to society as is their huge tax bill.
  14. 10 Aug '11 23:17
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44084236/ns/health-behavior/#.TkLELOYW32c

    [i]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 ...[text shortened]... ght say, this much is a statistical fact: warped wealth distribution leads to a sadder world.
    I think it is important to look under the hood of the study. Here is another report on it, from:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/fashion/02studied.html?_r=1

    The subjects were university students and employees.

    "In American social science, the definition of class is generally based on measures like income, occupational prestige and material wealth. In these experiments, class was determined either by educational level or by self-reported perceptions of family socioeconomic status."

    .......That is "self-reported socioeconomic status." See below for what happens if these kids are taken down a notch, self-image wise.

    "In the first experiment, participants were asked to look at pictures of faces and indicate which emotions were being expressed. The more upper class the judges, the less able they were to accurately identify emotions in others."

    In another experiment, upper-class participants had a harder time reading the emotions of strangers during simulated job interviews.

    In the third one — an interesting twist of an experiment — people of greater socioeconomic status were asked to compare themselves to the wealthiest, most powerful Americans, thus diminishing their own relative stature. When asked to identify emotions by looking at 36 sets of emoting eyes, they did markedly better than their upper-class peers. "

    ......who were not taken down a notch. Note that this study was not attitudinal, that is, these kids didn't have an unempathetic attitude; they simply couldn't read people as well. But when their status was diminished in their own eyes, then they could do better.

    .......The study suggests a reason:

    "Here’s why: Earlier studies have suggested that those in the lower classes, unable to simply hire others, rely more on neighbors or relatives for things like a ride to work or child care. As a result, the authors propose, they have to develop more effective social skills — ones that will engender good will.

    ...... I think people with money have people who hire people, vet them, etc. People without have to learn how to judge the emotional state of people they rely on for a ride to work, child care, etc.

    “Upper-class people, in spite of all their advantages, suffer empathy deficits,” Dr. Keltner said. “And there are enormous consequences.” In other words, a high-powered lawyer or chief executive, ill equipped to pick up on more-subtle emotions, doesn’t make for a sympathetic boss. "

    ..... I have certainly noticed this in my life, in the workplace.

    Another study is needed, comparing people who have become rich by their own efforts, to people who have become rich by inheritance. But this study involved students (probably not self-made rich, those that were rich) and employees (probably not in general rich at all) of an unnamed university.
  15. 10 Aug '11 23:18
    Originally posted by Kunsoo
    That would be the less empathetic way of looking at it. The poor are too generous with their money. It's been argued before.
    Look, I appreciate where you're coming from, I really do. That being said, who gives a crap about empathy? This is simple math if you're barely making enough to support yourself, you don't give money away on lottery tickets or cable tv. You eat ramen noodles and save every damn penny you get your hands on. If senor douche bag who produced this study had instead invested the grant money in teaching people to manage their finances he might have done some good. Instead he is trying to use his podium to flame class warfare.