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Research Shows That Money Changes Us for the Worse

A 2012 Boston Globe article asked the following question: Does money change you? "Here in the home of the American dream," the article stated, "most people are convinced that gaining a lot of money … wouldn't change who they are as people." But is that true?

The article reported:

As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behave—and not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think you'd behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you're probably wrong: These aren't just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are.

The article went on to summarize research studies conducted by Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Carlson and her colleagues have found that even the mere suggestion of getting more money—a technique known as "priming"—makes people less friendly, less sensitive to others, and more likely to support statements like "some groups of people are simply inferior to others."

Another series of studies from the University of California at Berkley concluded that wealthier people tend to be less compassionate towards others in a bad situation than people from lower-class backgrounds.

The article noted that "if you win the lottery and you want to avoid becoming an insensitive lout," there is a simply solution. One of the researchers summarized it this way: "Give at least half the money away."

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