The ‘rich’ show less empathy

To the Editor: 

A recent research project with 200 students at University of California at Berkley explored the  effects of wealth by randomly pairing them in a game of Monopoly. 

One would be “rich,” the other “poor.” The rich got twice the starting money, double the amount when passing GO, and the chance to roll two dice while the poor player got only one. All played for 15 minutes while being recorded on video. 

Results were consistent. At first, the pair would show puzzlement, noting the weirdness of the situation. But as the game proceeded, the rich persons began acting more physically dominant, pounding their piece while counting the spaces, and jubilantly raising arms in the air with each success. The rich person started talking about how they had “earned” so much more, claiming personal merit and achievement while ignoring the facts about the game’s original  rigging. 

The study concluded: “As privilege increases, compassion and empathy decrease and a sense of entitlement and favor become rampant. A moral code is invented to justify the privilege.”

As in the game, so in our economy. Could this be what Bernie Sanders is talking about?

Doug Wingeier


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