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Again, the researchers found that students self-identifying as wealthier spent less time looking at people. In a separate experiment, the NYU researchers tested whether the difference in the amount of time a participant dwelled on a person was the consequence of a conscious decision or a spontaneous cognitive reaction. They recruited nearly participants for an online study and had them look at alternating pairs of pictures, each of which contained an array of various items, always including one face and five objects like fruit, an appliance, or an article of clothing.
One picture would appear briefly on the screen, and then be replaced by a second picture that was either identical or nearly identical to the first. The two images would keep flickering this way until the participant hit the spacebar to indicate they had detected a change in one of the objects, or the face, in the photo, or that they had decided there had been no change.
People self-identifying as less wealthy were significantly faster than those of a higher social class at noticing change in faces in the photos, a sign, the researchers say, that faces held higher motivational relevance for them. And the response is pervasive and spontaneous, she added.
Past studies have investigated the myriad ways the rich interact differently with their community, and the results have not been pretty. For instance, in a series of studies published in , psychologists from University of California, Berkeley, had college students watch two videos—one of a man explaining how to build a patio, and another depicting the lives of children with cancer—and found the wealthier participants were less likely to report feeling compassion for the children and their families in the second video.
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The researchers controlled for factors like ethnicity, spiritual beliefs and gender, all of which also influence compassion. This reaction was noted in the less wealthy participants as they watched the second film, but not the wealthier subjects.
The wealthy, psychologists believe, pay less attention to everyone, regardless of status, which may affect their relationships with friends and family. One reason the rich may be less likely to value others is because they can afford to hire help to serve their needs like child care and home repairs rather than depend on a neighbor, according to Dacher Keltner , a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley. Join the journey! First name. Last name.
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Charlene Rhinehart, CPA.