Are the rich less feeling? Research suggests wealth reduces compassion


The image of the wealthy, self-interested "Scrooge-of-a-guy" wasn't only in Charles Dickens' imagination ... a series of psychological studies out of the University of California illustrate that as people gain wealth, they lose ethics, empathy and compassion.

Why the spectre of the unrepentant Scrooge stands behind so many wealthy people.

Common sense would suggest the wealthier a person is -- the easier it would be to be generous. And philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett suggest billionaires are benevolent.

How Wealth Reduces Compassion --Scientific American

Today, as part of our Project Money, we're looking into new research -- that suggests the opposite is typically true: as wealth accumulates, empathy, compassion and generosity decline.

Paul Piff is a social psychologist and post-doctoral scholar in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

What relationship do you believe exists between wealth and compassion, wealth and self-interest?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test

Journalist Jon Ronson had his own theory about what makes the rich seem manipulative, deceitful and non-empathetic. In his book The Psychopath Test, he writes about visiting one legendary CEO and asking the kind of questions psychologists ask when probing diseased minds.

Here is Jon Ronson at a TED talk last year with his thoughts on the psychopath test:


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