People who are born with money are MORE sensitive to the plight of the poor than those who have gone from ‘rags to riches’, study claims
- People who have risen from poverty to wealth are less sympathetic to the poor
- This may be because they see social mobility as easier, researchers suggest
- Study contradicts the popular belief that coming from a privileged background makes you more indifferent to the economic plight of others
People who have risen from poverty to wealth often boast of their humble beginnings, and one might assume they would be more sensitive to the plight of the poor than those who were born rich.
But a new study suggests that people who have gone from ‘rags to riches’ are less likely to sympathise with the struggles of poverty than those who have always had money.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people in the US and found that those who had moved up the economic ladder tended to see social mobility as being easier than people who were born rich.
As a result, they had less sympathy with those unable to follow them.
This runs contrary to the popular belief that coming from a privileged background makes you more indifferent to the economic plight of others.
The news comes after Prince William was photographed earlier this month selling copies of the Big Issue to highlight homelessness.
Prince William (pictured with Big Issue vendor Dave Martin) recently ‘went undercover’ as a Big Issue seller to shine a light on the issue of homelessness
Rich people are more likely to be mean
Rich people are more likely to be mean, similar to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, according to a new study, that found those from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be kind, like Tiny Tim and his family.
Analysing data from 46,000 people across 67 countries, including information on wealth and levels of morality and moral behaviour, helped a team from the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway, to make their discovery.
This research suggests that the Disney movies, as well as tropes in classic literature, stand up to scrutiny, with lack of wealth linked to higher moral standards.
While the link was relatively weak, it was a significant discovery, according to the researchers, who said poorer people were more likely to donate to charity and help.
‘There are all sorts of stories and cultural narratives about the rich, what they’re like and how they behave,’ said lead author of the study Hyunjin Koo, from the University of California.
‘Our findings suggest that not all rich people may be the same. What seems to make a difference is how they got rich.’
The team carried out five different studies as part of their research.
The first one surveyed 736 people in the US and found that people viewed the ‘Became Rich’ more positively than the ‘Born Rich’ and expected them to be more supportive of the poor and of social welfare.
This held true despite being told how hardworking people were in the two rich groups, the second study found.
Researchers conducted two further surveys of 1,032 wealthy individuals, with annual incomes of $80,000 in one study and $142,501 in the other.
It was here they discovered that those who became rich thought of social mobility as being easier and therefore had less sympathy with those unable to change their predicament.
In a final study, the researchers asked 492 people to imagine themselves in a hypothetical company.
They were randomly assigned into two groups, one whose members rose through the ranks and one where people were given top jobs from the beginning.
The results showed that participants in the upwardly mobile group thought it was easier to get ahead and therefore had less sympathy with those still struggling.
‘Just because someone has been in your shoes, doesn’t necessarily mean they care about you,’ said Mr Koo.
‘Overcoming a certain difficulty may, by its very nature, cause people to be less sympathetic toward those experiencing that same difficulty, because they overcame it.’
People who are born rich are more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of the struggles of poverty than those who were once poor themselves, the study finds
Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people in the US and found that those who had moved up the economic ladder tended to see social mobility as being easier than people who were born rich
The researchers said it is too early to make any definitive conclusions about how upward mobility affects how people think, saying more research is needed.
‘There are likely many wealthy people who do not match the patterns we document who are sympathetic toward the poor and social welfare,’ Mr Koo said.
‘We are showing basic trends, but there are likely to be many exceptions to the patterns we document.’
He added that the research suggests people should consider the cultural narratives surrounding the two wealthy groups, and that social mobility may have unexpected social downsides – causing those who have achieved success to be less sympathetic toward others who are struggling.
He also said he would like to do more research on how race and gender could affect this perception and to do similar surveys outside the US.
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
PRINCE WILLIAM ‘GOES UNDERCOVER’ AS A BIG ISSUE SELLER TO SHINE A LIGHT ON HOMELESSNESS
The Duke of Cambridge left passersby stunned earlier this month when he went undercover to help sell the special edition of the weekly magazine to mark his 40th birthday.
He sold 32 copies of the Big Issue in less than an hour as he spent the day on the streets of Victoria, London.
Prince William also wrote for the magazine, explaining he wanted to shine a light on the issue of homelessness, recalling when he first visited a homeless shelter with his mother, the Princess of Wales. He added that Diana, ‘in her own inimitable style, was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem’.
He even said he plans to take his children Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, to see the work ‘fantastic’ organisations he works with ‘just as my mother did for me’.
On Twitter he said: ‘I have always believed in using my platform to help bring attention and action to those who are struggling and I commit to doing what I can to shine a spotlight on this solvable issue not just today, but in the months and years to come.’