New research by Paul Piff at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that more money makes people act less human. Or at least less humane
As a Russell Sage post-graduate fellow in social science writing at the University of Wisconsin at Madison I had pretty much fallen for the credo that the social and behavioral sciences would provide valuable insight and authentic revelations about people. But I also have come to see how much of the methodology is flawed, if not laughable.
Such is the case with the experiment that Lisa Miller has described in this New York piece. How to describe it?
The study in question has concocted a Monopoly game that is rigged to make one player a sure winner. Both players know who the winner will be. As play progresses, the winner begins to gloat and commit other nasties. Fails to show much empathy. That's because he has more money than the loser.
From this--and Piff says he has done a lot more research like this--we are supposed to believe that we have another piece of evidence that money corrupts. That, to extend the thinking, that the better-off don't care a fig about the less fortunate.
But isn't it possible that a board game is just a board game, and the power that is given to the guaranteed winner is what is drawing out the nasty behavior and not the accumulation of fake money?
Fits nicely into a political agenda doesn't it.
Not that it's news that money can corrupt. But to extrapolate from this board game to help support universal statements is what makes so much social and behavioral science such a joke.
But Piff will push on, accumulating more and more grant money (from taxpayers?) to prove his politically correct point. Which, I suppose "according to the research," makes an enriched Piif puffed up, superior and uncaring.
Hat tip to Pat Hickey and his blog, With Both Hands.