Money really can make some people mean as wealth can build up their feelings of self-importance and bring out their dark side, according to new research.
What’s worse, their rudeness and arrogance emerges even if they are only playing rich in a game.
The proof comes from a program of tests carried out psychologist Paul Piff of University of Berkeley, California, who filmed mock rich players turning nasty over games of Monopoly.
His team set up winners by giving them more money and extra turns of the dice so they would win the game.
A 100 ‘rich man, poor man’ games were played and recorded.
Rude and aggressive
The results showed that the wealthier player tended to start acting superior to the loser and making increasing disparaging comments about them.
“Even though we rigged the results and the rich players knew it, they expressed verbal and non-verbal signs of dominance, power and celebration as the game progressed and they accumulated more money and assets than their competitors,” said Piff.
“We watched as they became ruder and more aggressive even though their wealth was only make-believe.
“After the games had finished, the winners still bragged about how they deserved to win and their strategies despite their wealth coming simply because they had won a flip of a coin.”
Their banter during the game included put-downs like: “I have enough money to own everything”, “you’re going to lose soon,” and “I have so much money that you can’t do anything to stop me winning.”
The fixed games were the latest in Piff’s research since 2006 into how the rich and poor interact and how wealth affects their attitudes towards each other.
Rich man, poor man
Other tests showed that drivers with luxury, high-end cars were more likely to break traffic laws and act badly towards drivers in cheaper cars.
For instance, around half of drivers with expensive cars ignored pedestrians waiting on crossings, while almost all those in cheaper cars stopped to let them cross.
In another, people were handed $10 and told they could keep the money or share some or all of it with someone less fortunate.
The results showed those earning less than $25,000 a year were 44% more likely to share than those earning more than $150,000 a year.
“Everyone has to decide whether to place their own interests in front of others,” said Piff. “However the conclusion from our research is the more money someone has, the more likely they are to put themselves first.”