While all millionaires seem unsympathetic to the struggle of the poor, self-made millionaires can be more than that.
New research has found that reaching the top makes people less sympathetic to the difficulties of being poor than those newly born rich.
In their first two studies, researchers surveyed 736 people in the US and found that people viewed those who became rich more positively than those who were born rich.
However, those who got rich were less supportive of the poor and Social Security.
The researchers surveyed 1,032 relatively wealthy individuals with annual incomes greater than $80,000 in one study and more than $142,501 in another. They found that those who became rich thought it was easier to improve one’s socioeconomic status than those who were born rich.
“There are all kinds of stories and cultural stories about the rich, what they are like and how they behave. Our findings suggest that not all rich people can be the same,” said Hyunjin Koo, one of the authors of the study.
Researchers focused their latest study on simulating the experience of upward mobility and found that participants in the upward mobility group found it easier to move forward, leading to decreased sympathy for those who struggled to get up.
However, it’s unclear whether upward mobility completely changes the way people think, so it may be too early to divide the rich into two groups.
“There are probably a lot of rich people who don’t fit the patterns we document and who are sympathetic to the poor and social security. We show basic trends, but there are probably many exceptions to the patterns we document,” says Koo.
“Just because someone has been in your shoes doesn’t mean they care about you,” he added. “Overcoming a particular difficulty can naturally make people less sympathetic to those who experience the same difficulty because they have overcome it,”
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