(R)ich 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.  (source)

Are rich people heartless because they are rich or does being rich make them heartless. What do YOU think?

Tags: heartlessness, wealth

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It's what I do --

Actually, Mark Twain dealt with this theme a lot, in both The Prince and the Pauper and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - the concept of a haughty, wealthy person having his financial rug yanked out from under him, being forced to live among the great unwashed, he begins seeing problems he never knew existed before, and his increased insight makes him a more humane person.

NO, wealth does not "make" one heartless. Just replace the word "wealth" with any other word and you will see how inadequate this question really is. Sorry if I sound mean about this but your question is non-sensical and leading/misleading. Does "poorly asked questions" make one heartless?  See the problem here?  It is better to ask open-ended questions and not leading questions. Notice how in the quote they use the probability words "more likely" because they probably don't have sufficient evidence/data to be more certain about their conclusions.

I'm afraid I don't follow you on the leading question aspect.


For example, I think a better question would be; how does wealth effect the empathy or lack thereof in wealthy individuals? This is a question that doesn't lead to a conclusion in and of itself. It allows an open discussion without prejudice. As far as my opinion on wealth, every individual is different and therefore boxing them all up into an easy to judge and mock group is called stereotyping. I really don't like forming my world view in this way but I certainly have to guard against my own tendency to look for the easy answer/conclusion instead of the real one.  Thanks for reading this short novel of a response. :) Have a great rational day!!

I don't see a dime's worth of difference betweeen "Does wealth make one heartless?" and "Does wealth make one non-empathetic?" Perhaps softening the question with qualifiers such as "Does wealth TEND TO make one heartless" or "Does wealth make a lot of people heartless" would be better in your mind.

Not if you share the wealth with generous donations to charities 

Ask me when I become wealthy.

I'm working at a fast food place to get me through my nuclear tech program tuition. It's in the richer part of town (gated communities, sports car owners etc.) I once encountered a guy who looked me in the eyes before placing an order and said "the only reason I'm talking to someone of your class is because I want food, otherwise wouldn't be talking to someone working minimal wage." I just said "okay, fine by me." it pissed me off though -.-... I guess in some cases it might.

I heard a reply once that I'll never forget. I save it for situations where someone lords it over me. I let them say their piece, staring at them. I continue staring at them with an expression exhibiting increasing contempt for a few seconds, and then say, "That was a cheap and vulgar display."

I'm not as nice as you are Matthew, I would have said, in all sincerity (and you should ALWAYS be sincere, whether you mean it or not!), "I can't begin to tell you how very honored I feel at this moment!"

I wish I could have been a smart ass but since the place I work is on the richer side of town, people expect a higher quality of service. I can't really be smart asses to these people. When they shit on me, I have to smile and ask for more shit.

That's my point, Matthew, if said in the most sincere of voices, there is absolutely nothing about my suggested response that could be construed as disrespectful.

That's a very leading question resting on the assumptions that all rich people are heartless, and that selfishness equals heartlessness. The only thing you can conclude from the article is that they are, on average, "more likely to think about themselves" compared to the average for non-rich people. So even if you wish to ask a leading question, it should be more correctly stated:

Are rich people selfish because they are rich or does being rich make them selfish. What do YOU think?

Becoming or staying rich is a processes of continually making correct decisions, which would include trusting oneself more than others when it comes to decision making. That's pretty close to what a selfish person is, and selfish people who are good at making decisions would therefore tend to be overrepresented. I also think it may be because "degree of selfishness" would be a positive skewed normal distribution, making the mode, or even median, more informative than the mean.

On the other side, a lot of rich people also commit and condone a fallacy. Becoming rich takes a good work ethic. But that is not the same as saying that everyone with a good work ethic becomes rich. Non rich people usually have a good work ethic, but have been less fortunate in their decision making. 

The answer to the question is either yes or no, so I don't see how one is led to the yes or the no by the framing of the question.

You write "Becoming or staying rich is a processes of continually making correct decisions, which would include trusting oneself more than others when it comes to decision making." However, isn't it really also a matter of making correct decisions aligning with self-interest while blocking any interests of others which might interfere.

In other words, anti-altruism.

Now, before anyone points out the altruism of some rich people, let's note that, first, philanthropy is the exception, not the rule. Also, even surface altruism can serve subsurface self-interests (such as grooming one's public image).

"The answer to the question is either yes or no, so I don't see how one is led to the yes or the no by the framing of the question."

It isn't a binary situation, therefore it isn't yes/no paradigm. It's about distribution, therefore framing it as a yes/no is leading. A simile would be "Are rich people intelligent because they are rich, or rich because they are intelligent" if the assumption is that rich people are, on average, more intelligent than non-rich (an assumption I suspect holds true).

"However, isn't it really also a matter of making correct decisions aligning with self-interest while blocking any interests of others which might interfere."

I will agree that it might, but excess rewards are not necessarily linked to self-interest, it is linked to success in risk taking. Selfishness is probably a driver in successful risk taking, but certainly not the only cause. Plain luck probably plays the largest part (and is wholly unappreciated).

I also agree that philanthropy is often nothing more than façade building, though with notable exceptions such as Gates and Buffett. Like the Church used to say "give until it hurts". 

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