Upperclass Behavior

Psychologist often study how people behave.  Typically they pick a certain demographic or situation.  There is a guy in Canada who has spent a lot of time trying to tease possible differences between liberals and conservatives.  And more recently there have been efforts to study happy people.

Paul Piff has found himself a very interesting bit of turf, he’s studying the rich.

There is a good Ted talk where he give a quick overview of two of his experiments.  In one of these he has a student stand at a cross walk.  It’s polite and the law that cars must stop for pedestrians.  Expensive cars often don’t stop.   All the really cheap cars stopped.   It affirms one’s believe that people in big expensive cars drive like jerks, doesn’t it?   So many questions – I’d love to know if in Finland, where fines are proportionate to income, this correlation is as strong.

He also found that if he creates a transparently rigged game the winners act like jerks.  And I blame most of that on the way one’s juices flow when your winning a game.   The most disturbing inappropriate behavior was how blind the winners were to their advantage.  In post game debrief they consistently attributed their success to their skills.   If people can’t see how a rigged game gifted them their winnings how can we be surprised that the rich are blind to this in real life?

I have so many questions. For example if this correlation is strong then being a jerk would tend to signal that one is rich. This signal would be easy to fake. Presume that you can benefit from association with the rich, so then the jerk signal is attractive.  I wonder if there is some perfectly balanced highly attractive signal that mixes generous with jerk.

Lots of questions. It sure looks like you can easily raise self-esteem with rigged games. You don’t need to keep it a secret.   Do people often construct rigged games they can then play to affirm how awesome they are?

Lots of questions.

2 thoughts on “Upperclass Behavior

  1. barney

    I wondered how reliable a proxy car type is for wealth when I first heard about this. Surely without establishing ownership there’s rather a huge confounder.

    I drive a 20 yo ford f250 and a brand new VW in Ma. When in Chicago I’m in ’69 Oldsmobile, Porsche 911, Suburban or Audi (none of these are mine). I’m the same person in each vehicle, but my driving is probably not :).

  2. bhyde Post author

    I’ve no doubt the Congress is urging the National Science Foundation to provide funds to enable this research to be done in a more meticulous manner. If there is a group who needs a finely honed model of the rich it would be they.

    But, if your curious about other “the cloths make the man” research there is this wonderful bit of research about police uniforms. I’ve no doubt the same effect must happen with cars, bikes, class rings, etc.

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