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Study Finds That Wealthy People Are More Likely to Cheat

Study Finds That Wealthy People Are More Likely to Cheat

1 Timothy 6:10 says it best: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

The accuracy in the scripture is undeniable: Research has shown that the rich are much more likely to cheat their way through life. They cheat more on their taxes and romantic partners. They are also more likely to shoplift. And in studies of charitable giving, it’s almost always lower-income homes who donate higher proportions of their income

Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at Berkeley, has spent decades studying power and the privilege of wealth. Six years ago, he and his then-graduate student, Paul Piff, published experiments that proved our assumptions about the rich are true.

“To researchers who study wealth and power, it’s dismaying but not surprising because it tracks so closely with our findings,” Keltner told The Columbian. “The effect of power is sadly one of the most reliable laws of human behavior.”

In their experiments, Keltner and Piff made many discoveries. In one, they stationed themselves at a busy four-way stop intersection. Tracking the model of each car whose driver cut off others instead of waiting their turn, they discovered that people driving more expensive cars were four times more likely to ignore right-of-way laws.

“[This] told us that there’s something about wealth and privilege that makes you feel like you’re above the law, that allows you to treat others like they don’t exist,” concluded Keltner.

Even Jesus warned His disciples that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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