The Hoi Polloi

The privileged class is kind of a blight:

We’ve even studied cars, not just any cars, but whether drivers of different kinds of cars are more or less inclined to break the law. In one of these studies, we looked at whether drivers would stop for a pedestrian that we had posed waiting to cross at a crosswalk. Now in California, as you all know, because I’m sure we all do this, it’s the law to stop for a pedestrian who’s waiting to cross. So here’s an example of how we did it. That’s our confederate off to the left posing as a pedestrian. He approaches as the red truck successfully stops. In typical California fashion, it’s overtaken by the bus who almost runs our pedestrian over. (Laughter) Now here’s an example of a more expensive car, a Prius, driving through, and a BMW doing the same. So we did this for hundreds of vehicles on several days, just tracking who stops and who doesn’t. What we found was that as the expensiveness of a car increased, the driver’s tendencies to break the law increased as well. None of the cars, none of the cars in our least expensive car category broke the law. Close to 50 percent of the cars in our most expensive vehicle category broke the law. We’ve run other studies finding that wealthier individuals are more likely to lie in negotiations, to endorse unethical behavior at work like stealing cash from the cash register, taking bribes, lying to customers.

You can watch Paul Piff’s whole TED Talk HERE (via).  You can also download it to watch later, or view a transcript.

That’s what makes transformations like St. Francis of Assisi and The Buddha so remarkable.  Somehow they were able to see through the veil that wealth and privilege had thrown over them, and saw that it just wasn’t enough.



  1. markonit

    …I think that money creates a sense of entitlement… not only materially but cosmically, as if the universe itself owes it a favor…


  2. Mel

    *sigh* Sad data they gathered. I’ll have to watch this TED presentation.


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