Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

(PNAS)   Edited* by Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, and approved January 26, 2012 (received for review November 8, 2011)

Abstract

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.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/21/1118373109.abstract

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