Rich Or Poor: Altruism’s Relationship To Money

Mar 18, 14 Rich Or Poor: Altruism’s Relationship To Money

The battle of the classes has long been an issue in society. Even the language used to talk about the extremes (e.g. filthy rich) indicates that stereotypes abound. For the filthy rich, many attribute egotistic and stingy behaviors. Think of Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Scrooge was such a miser and so insensitive that only visits from ghosts of the past, present, and future changed his greedy ways. This is often the stereotype given to the wealthy of today.

Queendom.com recently studied the characteristics of egoist and altruist and found that socio-economic status really has no impact on whether one gives or not. Here are their findings:

Regularly do favors for others without being asked:

  • People of low socio-economic status: 61 percent
  • Middle: 59 percent
  • People of high socio-economic status: 58 percent

Believe that favors they do for others should be returned:

  • Low socio-economic status: 15 percent
  • Middle: 14 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 16 percent

Will only do something nice for others for personal gain:

  • Low socio-economic status: 9 percent
  • Middle: 8 percent
  • High socio-economic status: 10 percent

Find it easy to put themselves in someone else’s shoes:

  • Low socio-economic status: 67 percent
  • Middle: 70 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 69 percent

Feel sympathy when they see someone in pain:

  • Low socio-economic status: 81 percent
  • Middle: 80 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 78 percent

Feel bad when they see someone less fortunate:

  • Low socio-economic status: 67 percent
  • Middle: 66 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 65 percent

Readily make themselves available when someone needs help:

  • Low socio-economic status: 69 percent
  • Middle: 66 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 67 percent

Genuinely enjoy helping people:

  • Low socio-economic status: 83 percent
  • Middle: 83 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 82 percent

Have helped someone in order to get on the person’s good side:

  • Low socio-economic status: 33 percent
  • Middle: 31 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 38 percent

Donate to charities on a regular basis:

  • Low socio-economic status: 14 percent
  • Middle: 20 percent
  • High socio- economic status: 29 percent

If they found a wallet on the street (containing money and credit cards):

  • Low socio-economic status: 6 percent would keep the money and throw the wallet out.
  • Middle: 4 percent would keep the money and throw the wallet out.
  • High socio- economic status: 5 percent would keep the money and throw the wallet out.

Because the scores are so close on each hypothetical circumstance, Queendom finds that it is not the amount of money one has that really makes one an egoist or an altruist; rather, it really is a product of one’s personality. Dr. Jerabek, president of Queendom, explained that money does not make a person more or less selfish because if a person is genuinely kind, that kindness will win out over the lure of money. She uses the example of winning the lottery. “When we hear stories of people who have won the lottery and then lost it all, it’s not just a result of poor money management; rather, it’s a by-product of their personality. Perhaps they have problems controlling their impulses. Perhaps in their desire to show off their new-found status, they go overboard and spend much more than they should – or buy ridiculous things. Or maybe they aren’t the saving-for-the-rainy-day type, and spend like it’s their last day on Earth. So guess what happens? They lose all their money, and end up even more broke than they were before they won. Essentially, how individuals conduct themselves when they have money has everything to do with who they are as a person.”

This study shows that just because an individual has money does not mean that person is greedy, miserly, or otherwise insensitive to those who do not have money. Money does not an altruist or egoist make. No, indeed, personality characteristics make one altruists or egoists. Sure, it may seem to be stereotyped that rich people are greedy, but Queendom’s study shows that is certainly not always the case.

To take the Egoist/Altruist test, click here.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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