Due to the recent economic mess in our country, many media outlets have done stories about the unethical behavior of many CEO’s and other higher-ups in boardrooms across America. Do a majority of people in this position act like Ken Lay of Enron or do the examples we hear about represent a minority?
Psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley recently conducted experiments to test this. Here’s what they found:
People who are socially and financially better-off are more likely to lie, cheat, and otherwise behave unethically compared to individuals who occupy lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.
Paul Piff, the lead author of the study, says the following:
Elevated wealth status seems to make you want even more, and that increased want leads you to bend the rules or break the rules to serve your self-interest.
The researchers’ findings were taken from seven separate experiments that included more than 1,000 people from a wide variety of professions. Piff and his colleagues used various measures to gauge the participants’ socioeconomic status including education levels, annual income (which ranged from about $16,000 to $150,000), and the participants’ own perception of their social standing. No matter what measure was used, higher-status people tended to act in ways that served their own self-interest. [Read more about the study]
I found this study to be pretty interesting. I know money can make people do things they normally would not do but I personally feel that money makes us more of who we already are verses shaping us as the study suggests. If someone is a greedy person, I feel that more money will make them less giving with his/her money. I have met very wealthy people (at least when it comes to his/her bank account) who are absolutely miserable and greedy. These people complain about how much they are paying in taxes and all sorts of other things. On the other hand, if one is a giving person, money will enable them to be more of a giver. I look at people such as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. Yes, these two are pretty extreme examples and have made more money than I will probably ever dream of. I am sure they have bought some pretty nice things but what are these two going to be remembered for most. Well, in Oprah’s case I would say it is the school she runs in Africa and the positive effect she had on others because of her talk show. For Bill Gates, it will be his foundation that has helped numerous causes and organizations.
I know there are some people who act dishonestly when they are given a certain level of power. They abuse this power in an attempt to gain even more. However, there are also people that are in a less powerful position that cheat and lie to better themselves.
As 1 Timothy 6:10 states, “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.”
I feel this spreads across all income brackets, not just the wealthy!
What do you think – does money make you become more unethical or does it just showcase what is already there a a little more?