Studies Link Wealth to Unethical Behavior Pt II

Study 6. Study 6 extended these findings to actual cheating behavior. Participants played a “game of chance,” in which the computer presented them with one side of a six-sided die, ostensibly randomly, on five separate rolls. Participants were told that higher rolls would increase their chances of winning a cash prize and were asked to report their total score at the end of the game. In fact, die rolls were predetermined to sum up to 12. The extent to which participants reported a total exceeding 12 served as a direct behavioral measure of cheating. Participants also completed the measures of social class (2) and attitudes toward greed (18) that we used in study 5. Controlling for participant age, sex, ethnicity, religiosity, and political orientation, social class positively predicted cheating, b = 0.22, SE b = 0.11, t(181) = 1.98, P < 0.05, and more favorable attitudes toward greed, b = 0.06, SE b = 0.03, t(186) = 2.22, P < 0.03. In addition, attitudes toward greed predicted cheating behavior, b = 0.61, SE b = 0.29, t(180) = 2.36, P < 0.02. When social class and attitudes toward greed were entered into a linear-regression model predicting cheating behavior, social class was no longer a significant predictor, b = 0.16, SE b = 0.11, t(185) = 1.50, P = 0.14, whereas attitudes toward greed significantly predicted cheating, b = 0.68, SE b = 0.27, t(185) = 2.50, P < 0.02. The Preacher and Hayes (20) bootstrapping technique (with 10,000 iterations) produced a 95% confidence interval for the indirect effect that did not include zero (range: 0.0005–0.3821). These results further suggest that more favorable attitudes toward greed among members of the upper class explain, in part, their unethical tendencies.

Study 7. To further understand why upper-class individuals act more unethically, study 7 examined whether encouraging positive attitudes toward greed increases the unethical tendencies of lower-class individuals to match those of their upper-class counterparts. When the benefits of greed were not mentioned, we expected that upper-class individuals would display increased unethical tendencies compared with lower-class individuals, as in the previous studies. However, when the benefits of greed were emphasized, we expected lower-class individuals to be as prone to unethical behavior as upper-class individuals. These findings would reveal that one reason why lower-class individuals tend to act more ethically is that they hold relatively unfavorable attitudes toward greed (and, conversely, that one reason why upper-class individuals tend to act more unethically is that they hold relatively favorable attitudes toward greed). Participants listed either three things about their day (neutral prime) or three benefits of greed (greed-is-good prime). Participants then responded to a manipulation check assessing their attitudes toward greed before completing a measure of their propensity to engage in unethical behaviors at work, such as stealing cash, receiving bribes, and overcharging customers (21). Participants also reported their social class using the previously described MacArthur measure (2).

As expected, participants primed with positive features of greed expressed more favorable attitudes toward greed (M = 3.12) compared with participants in the neutral-prime condition (M = 2.42), t(87) = 2.72, P < 0.01, d = 0.58. Our central prediction was that the manipulation of attitudes toward greed would moderate the relationship between social class and unethical behavior. To test this theory, we regressed the measure of unethical behavior on social class, the greed manipulation, and their interaction, while controlling for age, ethnicity, sex, religiosity, and political orientation. Results yielded a significant effect for social class, such that upper-class participants reported more unethical behavior than lower-class participants, b = 0.13, SE b = 0.07, t(84) = 2.00, P < 0.05, and a significant effect for the greed manipulation, such that participants primed with positive features of greed reported more unethical behavior than neutral-primed participants, b = 0.38, SE b = 0.18, t(84) = 2.18, P < 0.04. These effects were qualified by the predicted significant interaction between social class and the greed manipulation, b = −0.24, SE b = 0.18, t(84) = −2.34, P < 0.03. As shown in Fig. 2, in the neutral-prime condition, upper-class participants reported significantly more unethical behavior relative to lower-class participants, t(45) = 2.04, P < 0.05. However, when participants were primed with positive aspects of greed, lower-class participants exhibited high levels of unethical behavior comparable to their upper-class counterparts, t(38) = −1.42, P = 0.17.


Studies 6 and 7.

Folksonomies: ethics wealth greed

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/education/homework and study tips (0.433318)
/science/social science/philosophy/ethics (0.325436)

greed (0.957565 (negative:-0.537948)), social class (0.940996 (negative:-0.296381)), unethical behavior (0.800615 (negative:-0.528842)), participants (0.629414 (negative:-0.077657)), favorable attitudes (0.625443 (negative:-0.478926)), upper-class individuals (0.517960 (negative:-0.568258)), unethical tendencies (0.494992 (negative:-0.540553)), greed manipulation (0.477400 (negative:-0.546124)), lower-class individuals (0.459225 (negative:-0.568013)), Unethical Behavior Pt (0.436938 (negative:-0.279648)), greed increases (0.381843 (negative:-0.653140)), lower-class participants (0.374537 (negative:-0.437517)), lt (0.373953 (positive:0.234514)), upper-class counterparts (0.373731 (negative:-0.585991)), upper-class participants (0.368174 (negative:-0.396855)), actual cheating behavior (0.354697 (negative:-0.745717)), relatively favorable attitudes (0.349132 (negative:-0.682421)), relatively unfavorable attitudes (0.348843 (negative:-0.604442)), political orientation (0.333848 (neutral:0.000000)), direct behavioral measure (0.318396 (negative:-0.632367)), upper class explain (0.304999 (negative:-0.408540)), neutral-prime condition (0.300637 (neutral:0.000000)), previously described MacArthur (0.297024 (neutral:0.000000)), unethical behaviors (0.290163 (negative:-0.788334)), positive features (0.285924 (negative:-0.480794)), study (0.277919 (negative:-0.699429)), significant effect (0.271766 (negative:-0.243317)), neutral-primed participants (0.265201 (negative:-0.526509)), positive attitudes (0.255536 (negative:-0.653140)), bootstrapping technique (0.222579 (neutral:0.000000))

Hayes:Person (0.946896 (neutral:0.000000)), MacArthur:Person (0.922838 (neutral:0.000000)), 95%:Quantity (0.922838 (neutral:0.000000))

Sociology (0.961448): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Working class (0.758287): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Class consciousness (0.677980): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Piff, Stancato, Côté, Mendoza-Denton, Keltner (January 26, 2012), Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Retrieved on 2013-07-21
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: wealth greed sociopathology