The Rich and Goodness

If there is any validity to new research, then we finally have a scientific rationale for what Jesus noted all those many years ago. From the King James Bible:

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God

As weird as it is to see me quoting The Bible, it is even sadder to see the following explanation for why poor people give a higher percentage of their income to charity than the rich do. Could these results also explain the dearth of compassion found in much of today’s politics? From The Greater Good:

In other experiments, the researchers found evidence that lower-class participants’ greater tendency to perform kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—behavior could be explained by their greater concern for egalitarian values and the well-being of other people, and their stronger feelings of compassion for others.

However, the researchers also found that when they induced feelings of compassion in upper class participants, those people showed just as much pro-social behavior as lower-class participants. This suggests to the researchers that the rich and poor don’t necessarily differ in their capacity for pro-social behavior, just in the baseline level of compassion that they feel for others.

Piff and his colleagues argue that the poor may feel more compassion toward others because they are more connected to those around them, psychologically and socially. They are more dependent on other people to get by, for instance, and previous research has found that, perhaps as a result of that dependency, they display more empathy and are more attuned to other people’s body language than the rich. On the flip side, as people attain higher status, their ability to take other’s perspectives is diminished.

This entry was posted in Becoming Good, good vs. evil, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Rich and Goodness

  1. Sabrina Channel says:

    Interesting! There is a reason that these stories are placed into a collection that we derive our wisdom lessons from.

  2. dianesilver says:

    As someone who never, ever quotes The Bible, I found that this quote did a good job from thousands of years ago of taking note of the problem that the rich may have with compassion.

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