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  • I want you to, for a moment,

  • think about playing a game of Monopoly,

  • except in this game, that combination

  • of skill, talent and luck

  • that help earn you success in games, as in life,

  • has been rendered irrelevant,

  • because this game's been rigged,

  • and you've got the upper hand.

  • You've got more money,

  • more opportunities to move around the board,

  • and more access to resources.

  • And as you think about that experience,

  • I want you to ask yourself,

  • how might that experience of being

  • a privileged player in a rigged game

  • change the way that you think about yourself

  • and regard that other player?

  • So we ran a study on the U.C. Berkeley campus

  • to look at exactly that question.

  • We brought in more than 100 pairs

  • of strangers into the lab,

  • and with the flip of a coin

  • randomly assigned one of the two

  • to be a rich player in a rigged game.

  • They got two times as much money.

  • When they passed Go,

  • they collected twice the salary,

  • and they got to roll both dice instead of one,

  • so they got to move around the board a lot more.

  • (Laughter)

  • And over the course of 15 minutes,

  • we watched through hidden cameras what happened.

  • And what I want to do today, for the first time,

  • is show you a little bit of what we saw.

  • You're going to have to pardon the sound quality,

  • in some cases, because again, these were hidden cameras.

  • So we've provided subtitles.

  • Rich Player: How many 500s did you have?

  • Poor Player: Just one.

  • Rich Player: Are you serious. Poor Player: Yeah.

  • Rich Player: I have three. (Laughs)

  • I don't know why they gave me so much.

  • Paul Piff: Okay, so it was quickly apparent to players

  • that something was up.

  • One person clearly has a lot more money

  • than the other person, and yet,

  • as the game unfolded,

  • we saw very notable differences

  • and dramatic differences begin to emerge

  • between the two players.

  • The rich player

  • started to move around the board louder,

  • literally smacking the board with their piece

  • as he went around.

  • We were more likely to see signs of dominance

  • and nonverbal signs,

  • displays of power

  • and celebration among the rich players.

  • We had a bowl of pretzels positioned off to the side.

  • It's on the bottom right corner there.

  • That allowed us to watch participants' consummatory behavior.

  • So we're just tracking how many pretzels participants eat.

  • Rich Player: Are those pretzels a trick?

  • Poor Player: I don't know.

  • PP: Okay, so no surprises, people are onto us.

  • They wonder what that bowl of pretzels

  • is doing there in the first place.

  • One even asks, like you just saw,

  • is that bowl of pretzels there as a trick?

  • And yet, despite that, the power of the situation

  • seems to inevitably dominate,

  • and those rich players start to eat more pretzels.

  • Rich Player: I love pretzels.

  • (Laughter)

  • PP: And as the game went on,

  • one of the really interesting and dramatic patterns

  • that we observed begin to emerge

  • was that the rich players actually

  • started to become ruder toward the other person,

  • less and less sensitive to the plight

  • of those poor, poor players,

  • and more and more demonstrative

  • of their material success,

  • more likely to showcase how well they're doing.

  • Rich Player: I have money for everything.

  • Poor Player: How much is that?

  • Rich Player: You owe me 24 dollars.

  • You're going to lose all your money soon.

  • I'll buy it. I have so much money.

  • I have so much money, it takes me forever.

  • Rich Player 2: I'm going to buy out this whole board.

  • Rich Player 3: You're going to run out of money soon.

  • I'm pretty much untouchable at this point.

  • PP: Okay, and here's what I think

  • was really, really interesting,

  • is that at the end of the 15 minutes,

  • we asked the players to talk about their experience during the game.

  • And when the rich players talked about

  • why they had inevitably won

  • in this rigged game of Monopoly --

  • (Laughter) —

  • they talked about what they'd done

  • to buy those different properties

  • and earn their success in the game,

  • and they became far less attuned

  • to all those different features of the situation,

  • including that flip of a coin

  • that had randomly gotten them into

  • that privileged position in the first place.

  • And that's a really, really incredible insight

  • into how the mind makes sense of advantage.

  • Now this game of Monopoly can be used

  • as a metaphor for understanding society

  • and its hierarchical structure, wherein some people

  • have a lot of wealth and a lot of status,

  • and a lot of people don't.

  • They have a lot less wealth and a lot less status

  • and a lot less access to valued resources.

  • And what my colleagues and I for the last seven years have been doing

  • is studying the effects of these kinds of hierarchies.

  • What we've been finding across dozens of studies

  • and thousands of participants across this country

  • is that as a person's levels of wealth increase,

  • their feelings of compassion and empathy go down,

  • and their feelings of entitlement, of deservingness,

  • and their ideology of self-interest increases.

  • In surveys, we found that it's actually

  • wealthier individuals who are more likely

  • to moralize greed being good,

  • and that the pursuit of self-interest

  • is favorable and moral.

  • Now what I want to do today is talk about

  • some of the implications of this ideology self-interest,

  • talk about why we should care about those implications,

  • and end with what might be done.

  • Some of the first studies that we ran in this area

  • looked at helping behavior,

  • something social psychologists call

  • pro-social behavior.

  • And we were really interested in who's more likely

  • to offer help to another person,

  • someone who's rich or someone who's poor.

  • In one of the studies, we bring in rich and poor

  • members of the community into the lab

  • and give each of them the equivalent of 10 dollars.

  • We told the participants

  • that they could keep these 10 dollars for themselves,

  • or they could share a portion of it,

  • if they wanted to, with a stranger

  • who is totally anonymous.

  • They'll never meet that stranger and the stranger will never meet them.

  • And we just monitor how much people give.

  • Individuals who made 25,000 sometimes

  • under 15,000 dollars a year,

  • gave 44 percent more of their money

  • to the stranger

  • than did individuals making 150,000

  • or 200,000 dollars a year.

  • We've had people play games

  • to see who's more or less likely to cheat

  • to increase their chances of winning a prize.

  • In one of the games, we actually rigged a computer

  • so that die rolls over a certain score

  • were impossible.

  • You couldn't get above 12 in this game,

  • and yet, the richer you were,

  • the more likely you were to cheat in this game

  • to earn credits toward a $50 cash prize,

  • sometimes by three to four times as much.

  • We ran another study where we looked at whether

  • people would be inclined to take candy

  • from a jar of candy that we explicitly identified

  • as being reserved for children --

  • (Laughter) —

  • participating -- I'm not kidding.

  • I know it sounds like I'm making a joke.

  • We explicitly told participants

  • this jar of candy's for children participating

  • in a developmental lab nearby.

  • They're in studies. This is for them.

  • And we just monitored how much candy participants took.

  • Participants who felt rich

  • took two times as much candy

  • as participants who felt poor.

  • We've even studied cars,

  • not just any cars,

  • but whether drivers of different kinds of cars

  • are more or less inclined to break the law.

  • In one of these studies, we looked at

  • whether drivers would stop for a pedestrian

  • that we had posed waiting to cross at a crosswalk.

  • Now in California, as you all know,

  • because I'm sure we all do this,

  • it's the law to stop for a pedestrian who's waiting to cross.

  • So here's an example of how we did it.

  • That's our confederate off to the left

  • posing as a pedestrian.

  • He approaches as the red truck successfully stops.

  • In typical California fashion, it's overtaken

  • by the bus who almost runs our pedestrian over.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now here's an example of a more expensive car,

  • a Prius, driving through,

  • and a BMW doing the same.

  • So we did this for hundreds of vehicles

  • on several days,

  • just tracking who stops and who doesn't.

  • What we found was that as the expensiveness

  • of a car increased,

  • the driver's tendencies to break the law

  • increased as well.

  • None of the cars, none of the cars

  • in our least expensive car category

  • broke the law.

  • Close to 50 percent of the cars

  • in our most expensive vehicle category

  • broke the law.

  • We've run other studies finding that

  • wealthier individuals are more likely to lie in negotiations,

  • to endorse unethical behavior at work

  • like stealing cash from the cash register,

  • taking bribes, lying to customers.

  • Now I don't mean to suggest

  • that it's only wealthy people

  • who show these patterns of behavior.

  • Not at all. In fact, I think that we all,

  • in our day-to-day, minute-by-minute lives,

  • struggle with these competing motivations

  • of when, or if, to put our own interests

  • above the interests of other people.

  • And that's understandable because

  • the American dream is an idea

  • in which we all have an equal opportunity

  • to succeed and prosper,

  • as long as we apply ourselves and work hard,

  • and a piece of that means that sometimes,

  • you need to put your own interests

  • above the interests and well-being of other people around you.

  • But what we're finding is that,

  • the wealthier you are, the more likely you are

  • to pursue a vision of personal success,

  • of achievement and accomplishment,

  • to the detriment of others around you.

  • Here I've plotted for you the mean household income

  • received by each fifth and top five percent of the population

  • over the last 20 years.

  • In 1993, the differences between the different

  • quintiles of the population, in terms of income,

  • are fairly egregious.

  • It's not difficult to discern that there are differences.

  • But over the last 20 years, that significant difference

  • has become a grand canyon of sorts