Is It True That Money Spoils People [According To Scientists] Ichaku [Perfect Gifts Selection]

Is It True That Money Spoils People [According To Scientists]

Wealth can make a person selfish and unhappy, but it can be resisted

Many people dream of having a lot of money, but those who have it often have a bad reputation.

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Money and the power it gives are said to spoil people. The owners of big money allegedly become arrogant, inattentive and think only about how to multiply finances. Scientists have been studying the dark side of wealth for a couple of decades. Here's what they know.

How people perceive financial luck

More than a decade ago, psychologist Paul Piff's team conducted an experiment on the effect of wealth on human behavior. Because of this experiment he still receives angry letters every day.

Two hundred people were invited to Berkeley University's laboratory. They were divided into pairs and asked to play "Monopoly" - a strategy board game in which the goal is not to go bankrupt and bypass the other participants. Only the conditions were unequal: one player of the pair randomly received twice as much game currency. This gave an advantage: more moves and, therefore, the opportunity to win more.

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The process was filmed by a hidden camera. The "rich" participants changed their behavior more often in the course of the game: they talked louder, ate more cookies set for guests, got more excited about their winnings, and made disparaging remarks about their "poor" opponents.

But what struck Piff the most was the way the participants talked about themselves after the game. Most of the "rich" players, describing why they won, talked about their shrewd strategy and forgot that they were just lucky.

In his TED lecture, Piff called this experiment a metaphor for the structure of modern society: The higher one climbs in the social hierarchy, the less one thinks of others and the more one tends to see luck as a result of one's own achievements.

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But it is not wealth or financial success that has such an impact on a person's personal qualities. As Piff points out, it is all about a strong social divide. If members of society have too different financial positions, a person will try to justify the fairness of a privileged position. And also to convince himself that if someone does not deserve the same gift of fortune, then there is a reason for it.

When Piff first spoke publicly about the results of this experiment, he was bombarded with a flood of letters of criticism. Now there are fewer of them, but on average one a day still comes. The psychologist attributes this to the fact that his findings affect people's political beliefs. The American dream, which has become a cultural mainstream in many countries, assumes that the main thing in life is to be successful, and success can be achieved by everyone if he works hard. This means that socio-economic inequality is fair: poor people just don't work hard enough. Piff shatters this illusion.

But Piff's research does have much to criticize. First of all, the psychologist draws global conclusions about empathy and altruism in rich people on the basis of not so extensive data. Sometimes his studies involve hundreds of volunteers, sometimes only dozens.

Moreover, attempts by sociologists to understand whether the rich people to which Piff refers have been generous have so far been unsuccessful. Some studies show that rich people donate a smaller percentage of their income than the poor or middle class, and spend more on luxuries. Others show that the wealthy, on the contrary, give a higher percentage of their income to charity than do the poor. But even sociologists who document the generosity of the wealthy note that generosity is not common to all high-income people. Only a small fraction of them donate truly enormous sums, while the average high-income person is much more frugal.

Sociologists' research, like Paul Piff's experiments, speaks more to the ability of wealth to influence behavior than to the traits of particular people. As Piff himself admits, it is not only the rich who can put their own interests before others' and act selfishly. All people, regardless of income, choose daily between their own good and the good of others and seek a balance between these two competing strategies.

Nevertheless, dozens of studies in recent years have also shown that wealthy people are less likely to engage in pro-social behavior - kindness, empathy, and caring for others.

How Big Money Changes People

Wealth is good for mental health. Stress levels and the prevalence of depression are lower among affluent adults, and their children are less likely to suffer from mental disorders. Money gives access to better medicine and protects against the stress of poverty, a term used to describe the constant anxiety over finances among people who are poor or who grew up in poor families. This anxiety impairs physical health and depletes the psyche.

Still, financial success doesn't always benefit people: It can make them more selfish. Here are the behavioral patterns researchers found in affluent people.

Low levels of generosity and trust. To study the behavior of people of different financial backgrounds, researchers regularly turn to games. In one, Piff's team invited participants to test their knowledge of the financial market. The goal: earn as many points as possible. The conditions are as follows: if you give your points to another player, they will be tripled, and if he then gives them to you - tripled again, but with you. The only question is whether the other player will share them with you.

While the 250 volunteers played the game, the researchers recorded their decisions and determined how altruistic each of them was. Then they pieced together data on gaming behavior and other information about the participants: gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, annual income, and a subjective assessment of their financial well-being.

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In the end, they found that generosity and trust were less likely to be exhibited by wealthy people. Other personal characteristics had no effect on kindness.

Low Social Intelligence. The social intelligence test involves looking at 36 pictures of strangers and determining how they feel. Wealthy people score lower on it than those who are struggling financially.

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But as social psychologist Michael Kraus discovered, there are exceptions to this trend. Affluent people identify positive emotions, fear and embarrassment normally, but other people's hostility, including the hostility of loved ones, is difficult to recognize. Even if they do read this sentiment, they do not adopt it: the emotion is not transmitted to them, they do not begin to feel the same way. People with low incomes, on the contrary, tend to share hostility with their loved ones - they understand better if their relatives have been hurt by someone. Michael Krauss calls this feature of empathy resistance to the contamination of other people's hostility.

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Belief in one's own exceptionalism. One study tracked what respondents believed to be their entitlement. There were statements along the lines of "If I were on the Titanic, I would deserve to be on the first lifeboat." There were more of those who agreed with such statements among the wealthy participants. Such attitudes may be related to narcissistic traits - a belief in one's own superiority over others and a predominantly self-focused attitude.

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Stanford researchers estimated that many senior executives exhibit narcissistic traits. A narcissist's self-confidence and sociability makes him a good leader in the eyes of others. Another study found that psychopathic traits are more common among people with successful careers than the population average. Perhaps the willingness to take risks, low empathy and the belief in one's own exceptionalism help one to succeed in an environment where competition is very high.

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Tendency to break the rules. Another Piff team experiment. A volunteer was placed in front of a crosswalk in San Francisco, who tended to cross the road every time someone passed. The researchers observed how drivers of expensive and cheap cars behaved - the cars were divided into five groups based on price.

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When 150 cars drove by, the researchers saw a pattern: the higher the class of car, the less often drivers stopped to give way. Almost half of the highest class cars did not pass a pedestrian, even though they were required by law to do so. At the same time, the cars in the first group - the cheapest ones - did not violate the rules even once.

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Piff continued the experiment without a pedestrian. The researchers simply observed the behavior of 274 drivers at a busy intersection in San Francisco. The highest-class cars were four times more likely to "cut off" other vehicles than drivers in more modest cars. That is, the owners of Fords and Subarus were much more law-abiding than those of Mercedes and BMWs.

Why money affects people so much

Apparently almost everyone, regardless of income, behaves differently when they think about money. As long as the focus is on something else, people are more inclined to think more about those around them and not sacrifice their interests in pursuit of their goal. Once we think about money, the brain switches to competitive mode. At such times, our effectiveness at work increases, but our desire to maintain close relationships and help others decreases.

How this works was shown by an experiment with preschoolers. They were asked to sort out colored buttons or coins, and then conducted tests on altruism and assiduity. In the first test, children were given stickers and then asked to share them with other children. The second was to walk through a drawn maze using a pencil. They were allowed to use an eraser, ask for help, and finish as soon as they got bored.

Children who were sorting coins understood the importance of their activity - they were dealing with money. And at the next stage, they also showed great assiduity, accuracy, and independence when they tried to pass the maze. However, they took more stickers for themselves and gave less. It turns out that focusing on money simultaneously enhances qualities in a person that are useful for individual work, and depresses other qualities that are necessary for cooperation and strengthening social ties.

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But there is something that affects people's personal qualities much more profoundly than wealth: the lust for wealth. It's more than just wanting to get rich and solve financial problems. It is about situations in which one's entire life is constructed with an orientation toward materialistic values.

The most extensive research on the attachment of wealth to super-value was conducted by the psychologist, author of the book "To Be or to Have? The Psychology of Consumer Culture, by Tim Kasser. Along with other scientists, he spent twelve years observing the lives of 118 people. At the age of eighteen the participants took two tests: one assessed mental health, the other - the focus on financial success. When they turned thirty, Kasser repeated the tests and found: the mental health of people who placed less importance on materialistic values became better. Conversely, it worsened in those who became more fixated on money.

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To verify the result, Tim Kasser conducted two more similar but shorter experiments: the first lasted two years, the second six months. But they were with a larger number of participants: there were 999 of them. The results also showed that adherence to materialistic values reduces subjective well-being, that is, it literally makes us unhappy. There are several reasons why this might be the case.

Lust for wealth makes self-esteem low or unstable. Low self-esteem is when a person underestimates themselves all the time and thinks they are a failure. Unstable is when a person's self-image depends on external factors. There is always someone richer, and that hurts. So, if a millionaire who used to socialize with millionaires suddenly starts spending time with billionaires, his level of subjective life satisfaction and well-being will drop dramatically.

A focus on money threatens relationships with loved ones. Focusing on finances makes a person inattentive to the needs of others or outright selfish. Selfish people tend to be less supportive of loved ones. Relationships deteriorate, up to and including breakups.

The desire for wealth limits the range of feelings. Those fixated on money more often experience simpler positive emotions that are directed at themselves: fun, pride, momentary satisfaction from their success. But love, empathy, and awe-the complex feelings that bind a person to others-are less typical for them.

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Materialistic values get in the way of satisfying social needs. Psychologists distinguish basic social needs. First is the need for autonomy: we must choose how to behave ourselves. Secondly, it is the need for kinship: we need to feel a connection with other people, to have close relationships. And thirdly, there is the need for competence: we need to feel effective in the activities we consider valuable.

Tim Kasser suggests: people who attach too much importance to material values cannot satisfy the need for autonomy and relatedness. Autonomy is hampered by the fact that they are more often engaged in uninteresting tasks for the sake of money. The need for kinship is harder for them to satisfy because they spend more time chasing money and less time chasing family, friends, and helping others.

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How not to let money ruin you

There is no amount of money that makes a person narcissistic and dishonest: wealth is always relative. Sometimes a person with millions in an account remains empathic, and someone becomes arrogant when he or she earns a little more than others. Also, even if someone is focused on money, there are ways to switch it up. Here are a few of them.

1.      Remind yourself more often of the value of time. If a person shifts his focus from money to time, he increases his chances of acting ethically. He donates more to charity and communicates more with loved ones. This may be because thinking about time reminds you that life passes quickly, which means you need to do something meaningful, meaningful, and good right now.

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2.     Think about money when you need to focus on work. Thinking about finances puts the brain into a special mode: we focus on the goal and ignore everything that isn't about it. This is a great strategy for career achievement. The main thing is to "turn it off" in time, for which the previous tip comes in handy.

3 Be as honest as possible. The more often a person resorts to deception over trifles, the less decent he behaves in other situations. For example, scientists believe that just interacting with "dirty" money is enough to stop appreciating fairness and cheat customers more often.

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4.     Support charities. Money makes people focus on themselves and forget about charity, justice, and caring for the people they love. But such self-centeredness for most of us is not a permanent character trait, but a mode of operation of the psyche. To switch from selfishness back to kindness, regularly do something for others: donate money to charitable foundations, become a volunteer. And don't forget to support your loved ones - not only with money, but also emotionally.

5.     Be aware of good fortune. Rich people often think they've achieved success solely because of their talent and hard work. But luck affects your career much more. Being born into a wealthy family means having access from childhood to the best education, the best medicine, and plenty of social connections with other rich and successful people.

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Even if one does not have wealthy parents behind him or her, one can be fortunate in other ways. Being born in a big city, having good mental and physical health, or being able to get a college education rather than working right out of school to feed oneself and loved ones are all privileges invisible to their owner but affecting their success.

This does not mean that you should write off your success only to chance. But it is important to remember privilege and luck in order to remain an empathic and helpful person.

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