Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

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“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.”

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior PNAS 2012 109 (11) 4086-4091; published ahead of print February 27, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1118373109



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