After almost ten years of research, a social psychologist has concluded that wealth makes you a bad person.
Rich test subjects are more likely to break rules, care less about others, and feel entitled to put their own interests before others, Professor Paul Piff has found.
Those with more money cheat more frequently at games, are more likely to steal lollies from children, and less likely to spend time helping others during experiments.
“[Wealth] makes you more attuned to your own interests, your own desires, your own welfare,” Prof Piff told the BBC.
“It isolates you in certain ways from other people psychologically and materially. You prioritise your own needs and your own goals and become less attuned to those around you.”
The conventional wisdom is that the poor keep more for themselves, while the rich give more away, but the Professor has observed the opposite — that poorer people give one-and-a-half times as much as their richer test subjects.
“The wealthier you are… the less generous you are. You give significantly smaller portions away to this other person,” he said.
In one of his studies, Prof Piff rigged a game of Monopoly so that one player started with more money. The result was that the richer player became “imperious”, took up more space at the table, and ate more from a shared bowl of snacks.
This seems to align with recent research, which found that more attractive men make worse boyfriends and husbands, as they are more selfish.
Prof Piff thinks that being wealthy makes you feel less dependent on others, allowing you to place a lower priority on personal relationships.
But the theory has been directly contradicted by other research.
For example, a Dutch study found that actual millionaires were more generous than the average test subject when asked to decide between keeping or giving away a small amount of money.