It’s 8:30 in the morning. You know you are going to be late for work again. You are standing in a long queue to get your coffee and breakfast, complaining to the waiter for not delivering your order promptly. After an exhausting day at work, you feel like going home immediately. You start messaging your friend after spotting a seat on the MRT without seeing a ve-year-old girl standing just in front of you.
早上8 點半，你知道你今天上班又要遲到了。你排在很長的隊伍裡等著買咖啡和早餐，一邊抱怨服務生動作不夠快速。上了一整天班，你精疲力盡，ㄧ心只想著趕快回家。一上捷運，看見有位子就立刻坐下，開始拿出你的手機傳訊息給朋友，沒有注意到一位5 歲的小女孩就站在你面前。
The scenario is familiar to all of us; or we can say it happens to us or around us almost every single day. We tend to prioritize our needs above the interests of other people. When having a bad (A)conscience, we would come up with a whole bunch of excuses to justify our behaviors. It makes us wonder if the hustle and bustle of life in the big city has turned us into ruthless people.
How does money affect the way we behave? A famous social psychologist, Paul Piff,uses a rigged monopoly game to answer the question.
Paul and his research group conducted a study at the University of California, Berkeley, to look into how people behave when feeling wealthy. They brought more than 100 pairs of strangers into the lab to play the monopoly game. One of the players in each pair was assigned as the“ privileged” one and the other one as the“ poor” one. The privileged players collected twice the salary on passing“ Go” and rolled two dice rather than one.
Significant differences between the privileged and the poor players were revealed as the game unfolded. The rich ones became louder, followed by display of power and dominance through nonverbal language. The privileged players even behaved in ruder ways towards the poor ones as a means of showing off their material success. The experiment demonstrates that as one’s wealth goes up, one’s feelings of compassion and empathy decrease while self-focus and feelings of (B) entitlement increase. On top of that, some research showcases that financial inequality undermines positive things in the society, such as economic growth, social trust, and educational performance.
The Global Wealth Report in 2013 shows that the top 10% of the world population own close to 83% of the total wealth while half of the population possesses barely 1% of global wealth. It also suggests that economic growth has (C) exacerbated this income inequality. As governments around the world try to grow their economies,we should perhaps ask ourselves how much economic growth we are willing to compromise, if any, for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens!