Pre-thinking:

Have you thought about how wealth can affect social behavior? Does money tend to make a person mean or generous? As economic inequality increases, the ‘American Dream’ is threatened. Social psychologist Paul Piff shows that restoring the American Dream, and increasing positive social behavior, is possible.

Why you should listen:

In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there’s good news too.

Who is he:

Paul Piff is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. In particular, he studies how wealth (having it or not having it) can affect interpersonal relationships.

Questions:

  1. In the Monopoly experiment, players quickly became aware that the game was rigged. How did it affect the behavior of the player with more money?
  1. Why are the rich more likely to cheat or break laws?
  1. What happens to the dynamic between compassion and empathy, and entitlement and self-interest, when comparing the rich and the poor?
  1. How does the American Dream subtly encourage all of us to put ourselves above the needs of others?
  1. What are some of the positive and negative effects of economic inequality?
  1. What can we do about what Piff calls the “cascade of self-perpetuating, pernicious, negative effects” of economic inequality? What could you, personally, do?

Making Connections:

Money might not make you mean but a new study suggests that it might make you socially insensitive. Give a listen:
http://www.marketplace.org/2015/12/03/wealth-poverty/brain-drain-how-our-minds-cost-us-money/money-triggers-social

Does money make you mean? with Paul Piff

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