How Wealth Reduces Compassion
Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? Research suggests as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.
Why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others? After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness. The research team suspects that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused. Another reason has to do with our attitudes towards greed. Upper-class people may be more likely to endorse the idea that “greed is good.” The researchers found that wealthier people are more likely to agree with statements that greed is justified, beneficial, and morally defensible.