Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior
Paul K. Piff (a), Daniel M. Stancato (a), Stéphane Côté (b), Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton (a), and Dacher Keltner (a)
(a) Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; and
(b) Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E6
Edited* by Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, and approved January 26, 2012
Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.