Are the rich really the unfeeling boors they’re made out to be?
Pity the poor plutocrat. Politicians want to tax them, Occupy Wall Streeters mock them, 99% of their fellow citizens are mad at them (even if they secretly want to be one of them). Now comes word from the University of California, Berkeley, that is not likely to send their approval ratings any higher: a new study has confirmed that the richer you are the less compassionate you are — and don’t gloat, you upper-middle classers, that includes you too.
In a study just published in the straightforwardly named journal Emotion, psychologist Jennifer Stellar sought to determine the empathic capacities of a sample group of 300 college students, who had been hand-selected for maximum economic diversity. As a rule, of course, college students have just one income level: poor — which is why they spend so much time writing home for money. Stellar thus chose her subjects based on the income of the people who respond to the requests and write the checks: the parents.
By JEFFREY KLUGER