Psychologist Daniel Goleman has written a fascinating piece for today’s New York Times about social status and empathy. It seems that the richer and more powerful a person is, the less empathy he or she is likely to have for people who are lower in status:
A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker.