While we as human beings strive to get along and live in peace amongst one another, the reality shows otherwise. We live in an era of increasing economic inequality. The top 20 percent of people in the United States in the world hold almost 90 percent of the country’s wealth. What does all this money do to people? Does it change their personalities and the way they interact with other members of society? Below, we’re going to show you how the mind makes sense of advantage, based on a research study done by Paul Piff, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He said that those with more money:

  • Show lower levels compassion and empathy
  • Show higher levels of entitlement, and self interest
  • Moralize greed as being good
  • More inclined to break the law
  • Less likely to give money (donations, tips, etc.)
  • Less likely to stop for pedestrians during a crosswalk

Now it’s important to note, that this information should not be generalized to think that ALL wealthy individuals act like this. However, this does hold true for the general top wealthy Americans of the country. As a result, the American dream is becoming increasingly unattainable for an increasing majority, due to the simple fact that the wealthier you are, the more entitled you feel to that wealth, and more likely you are to do things that result in your self-interest instead of helping others. So now that we know this, is there anything we can do to instill compassion and empathy within these wealthy individuals?


Simply creating awareness of our society and current economic equality is a great start. In Paul Piffs research study, simply showing wealthy individuals a 45 second video on childhood poverty that served as reminder of the needs of others in the world around them. Doing this resulted in wealthy individuals willing to give up just as much of their time to help out the stranger as a poor person would.

The good news is that some of the most wealthy individuals around the world know about this inequality and are taking active steps in contributing towards society with their own wealth and going against their own self interest to help reduce inequity amongst our society. Things like creating new charity organizations, restructuring social policies, and challenging people’s behavior are all being done to restore equality, and ultimately attempting to bring back what was once the American Dream.


This blog was summarized from Paul Piff’s talk “Does Money make you Meaner”.