It suggests that the traditional notion of the upper class “cad” or “bounder” could have a scientific basis.
But psychologists at the University of California in Berkeley, who carried out the study, also suggested that the findings could help explain the origins of the banking crisis – with self-confident, wealthy bankers more likely to indulge in reckless behaviour.
The scientists also carried out a series of observations at a traffic junction in San Francisco.
Different drivers’ social status was assessed on the basis of what car they were driving as well as visible details such as their age.
Those deemed to be better off appeared more likely to cut up other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians.
Overall the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that those from richer or powerful backgrounds appeared greedier, more likely to lie in negotiation and more likely to cheat.
Being in a higher social class – either by birth or attainment – had a “causal relationship to unethical decision-making and behaviour”, they concluded. The findings appeared to bear out the teachings of Aristotle, Plato and Jesus that greed is at the root unethical behaviour.
Originally posted at http://ukhudshanskiy.dreamwidth.org/1230040.html.