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Are the Rich Really Different From You and Me?
Date:2/27/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- If a luxurious-looking car heads in your direction, you may want to look out. That's the message of a new observational study that contends that people who drive expensive cars are more likely to cut off pedestrians and ignore stop-sign etiquette.

The new research didn't just focus on driving habits, either. Other lab-based experiments done by the researchers found that study participants who considered themselves wealthy were more likely than those less wealthy to have unethical decision-making tendencies, be dishonest in a negotiation, or skirt the rules to boost their chances of winning a prize, among other traits, the study authors claimed.

The traffic experiments didn't prove that the seemingly rich drivers violated traffic laws because their wealth makes them selfish. Still, the drivers appeared to be putting themselves first, ahead of the law and the needs of others, said study lead author Paul Piff, a graduate psychology student at the University of California, Berkeley.

"They prioritize themselves," Piff said. "They're less oriented to what other people are doing, and they're seeming to perceive the law as potentially not applicable. It seems the more they have, the more attuned they become to their own wishes and desires."

At issue is how the rich are seemingly different from everyone else. Researchers have studied this topic, trying to understand how wealth -- or the lack of it -- affects people's decisions in areas such as ethical behavior.

Karl Aquino is professor of organizational behavior and human resources management at the Saunders School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He said that "there is accumulating evidence that says what's most psychologically beneficial about having wealth is that it gives [people] a greater sense of control over their environments, which reduces stress and
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