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Having Money Can Increase Narcissism

Update Date: Aug 21, 2013 10:09 AM EDT
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Movies, television shows and other forms of entertainment have often utilized the character of a snobby rich person who could care less about anyone else. Within our society, this belief that wealthier people tend to be more self-involved is perpetuated by the entertainment field everyday. Although the adjectives used to describe rich people might not apply to all wealthy folk, according to the latest research, rich people really are different from the rest of society. This study suggests that having more money can make people more self-absorbed and feel more self-entitled.

"There's this idea that the more you have, the less entitled and more grateful you fell; and the less you have, the more you feel you deserve. That's not what we find," commented the study's author, Paul Piff who is a psychologist at the University of California Berkeley according to TIME. "This seems to be the opposite of noblesse oblige."

For this study, the researchers ran five experiments that enlisted the help of several hundred undergraduate students and 100 adults. In one of the experiments, the researchers asked the participants to picture themselves as circles. The size of the circle that the participants chose would indicate what they think of themselves. The researchers discovered that wealthier people tended to associate themselves with larger circles. Rich people depicted other people with smaller circles. In another one of the five experiments, the researchers found that wealthier people looked at themselves more often in the mirror than people who were not as wealthy.

The researchers found that rich people tend to be more narcissistic. In one of the experiments, rich people were more likely to agree with statements such as, "I honestly feel I'm just more deserving than other people." Rich people would put themselves higher on a class ladder as well. Aside from these findings, the researchers discovered that college students who came from families that were more wealthy and educated were more narcissistic even if they did not have money themselves. These students also felt more self-entitled.

"This paper should not be read that narcissists are more successful because we know from lots of other studies that that's not true. People say we have to be that way because it's so competitive, but it doesn't actually help you compete," commented Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

The study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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