How the rich differ from the poor - 1
From a blog by Adam Turville
There is evidence of a large disparity between the wealthy and the poor across the world. Many wealthy people become philanthropists, donating £Billions every year to poverty-focused charities and/or make social investments in order to address social ills through business. But how does this division between the wealthy and the poor affect the social aspects of our society? Are the wealthy truly invested in the poor and do they care?
Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, and Michael W. Kraus, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have done much of the research on social power and a resulting attention deficit.
Here's one experiment:
Members of one group had a much higher income than the members of the other. Subjects of both income classes were instructed to share and communicate, with another individual, about hardships that they had experienced in their personal lives. Researchers then observed the interaction between the two individuals. The findings of the research show that the rich consistently demonstrate disinterest in the personal difficulties of the poor.
The wealthy showed less sympathy and concern as they listened to the poor recall personal trials, such as divorces and deaths in the family. Conversely, the poor tended to be as attentive to the difficulties of the rich as they were to the difficulties of their socio-economic equals.
The researchers concluded that we tend to be interested in those whom we value. Partly due to a void in material wealth, the poor tend to value social relationships. They develop “keenly attuned interpersonal attention, in all directions”. This is a trait that anyone — and everyone — could develop, regardless of financial wealth.
If the researchers are correct in their conclusions, and members of our society are only interested in those whom they value, then inattention would demonstrate that the rich undervalue the poor. Why is this?
Speculation is as follows:
Looking at Hidden rules among classes (see below for link), perhaps it is that the rich are focused on gaining more wealth, status, and contact with other wealthy people that there is little incentive for them to get to know and care for the poor.
It may be that the rich judge the poor. The rich may assume the poor live a “substandard” life brought upon themselves through their own ignorant or incompetent decisions.
Wealthier members of society may assume that everyone has the same opportunities and that those whose cognitive abilities are less efficient should not receive certain advantages in society because they have not earned them. This attitude, if it exists, is undermined by research that says that many cognitive difficulties are environmentally induced. In other words, those who live in economic stress may be impaired cognitively as a result of the stress caused by consistently living in situations where their economic lives provide bitter choices.
While those who are well off enjoy the comfort of ample financial resources, they could also strive to develop and use their own sense of a “keenly attuned interpersonal attention, in all directions.”
As Christians do we have "keenly attuned interpersonal attention, in all directions"?
See also the blog on Hidden rules among classes.
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