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Having Money Increases ‘Mean’ Behavior

Paul Piff, a professor at University of California, Irvine, studies how money influences humans' relationships with one another. His striking conclusion is that money makes us mean. Piff describes one of his experiments involving two individuals playing a rigged game of Monopoly.

We randomly assigned one of the [players] to be a rich player in a rigged game [of Monopoly]. They got two times as much money. For example, when they passed "GO," they collected twice the salary. As the game unfolded, we saw very dramatic differences emerge … The rich player started to move around the board louder, literally smacking the board with their piece … we were more likely to see signs of dominance and displays of power among the rich players. The rich players actually started to become ruder toward the other person, less and less sensitive, and more and more demonstrative of their materials success.

Quotes from rich players included: "I have money for everything ... you're going to lose all your money soon ... I have so much money, I'm going to buy out this whole board ... I'm pretty much untouchable at this point ... "

Piff has conducted similar experiments with real-life wealthy individuals and discovered identical results. His experiments have tested individuals' willingness to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, cheat in a game, share a monetary gift with strangers, and even take candy from a jar clearly labeled as being for children. In every experiment, higher incomes were correlated with "mean” behavior!

"What we've been finding ... is that as a person's level of wealth increases, their feelings of compassion and empathy go down, and their feelings of entitlement and self-interest increase."

Possible Preaching Angles: Of course it doesn’t have to be this way. In and through Christ, the rich can grow in gentleness and kindness, but it will take the power of the Holy Spirit.

John Cortines and Gregory Bauwer, God and Money, (Rose Publishing, 2016), Pages 49-50

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