Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Paul Piff - Does Having Money Make You Mean? - interview - Goldstein on Gelt - Jan. 2014

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Transcription of interview with Paul Piff on January 27, 2014.

Douglas Goldstein, CFP, Financial Planner & Investment Advisor

Paul Piff is a social psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley. He does

this study about how rich people and poor people look at themselves a little bit differently.

Douglas Goldstein, financial planner & investment advisor, interviewed Piff on Arutz Sheva Radio.

Douglas Goldstein: You did a study how they actually look at themselves in the mirror.

Whats the difference?

Paul Piff: We have done a lot of different studies looking at how wealthier people behaved

differently from those who are less wealthy and one of the more recent studies, were

actually looking at patterns of personality. How does wealth shaped how people kind of

see themselves and define themselves in relation to others and the variable that I focused

on across the number of different studies is this variable that social psychologists

more generally call narcissism. Narcissism is this broad kind of personality constructed

that kind of refers to the extent which you havent inflated sense of yourself in relation

to others. You think that you are more omnipotent, more invulnerable to mistakes, you need to

be the center of attention to want to dominate in social interactions and a big piece of

narcissism is how vain you are, how likely you are to prioritize your own physical appearance,

how you look, the clothes that you are wearing, whether you stand out from the pack in relation

to what you have on.

One of the studies that you just referenced that we ran, we actually look at whether people

would look at themselves in a mirror or ought to look at their reflections in a mirror by

actually discretely posing a person who is a confederative of our studies. So a research

assistant was hiding behind the corner kind of looking out unbeknownst to the actual participant

who was given the option to look at themselves and groom themselves in the mirror when they

were told that we would be taking a photo of their faces. Unbeknownst to them, we actually

recorded what they did whether they look at themselves in the mirror and how long they

spent. What we found was this very specific fact such that the wealthier you were, the

more likely you were to want to go over to that mirror and look at your reflection and

spent some time looking at your reflection in it.

Douglas Goldstein: How radically different was it between the wealthy and the not one?

Paul Piff: It was statistically significant. It wasnt a huge effect. Of course there

were some wealthy people that didnt and again were looking at students here so

these are students of wealthy parents. Were not actually measuring peoples direct levels

of wealth, were measuring college students in this study, some of whom come from a lot

of money, others of whom comes from very little. In some cases, wealthy people didnt look

at their reflections in the mirror and there were just a lot of poor people who didnt

look at their reflections at all but across the board, we looked at I think around 350

different students, we found a significant effect that say about a 20% more likelihood

of looking at your reflection spending time there.

I should say thats just one study among a big package of studies where we look at

narcissism and entitlement in a whole bunch of different ways. Narcissism is a difficult

thing to look at behaviorally but this was our attempt to look at one kind of behavioral

manifestation if you will of vanity in a study.

Douglas Goldstein: You also did another study that looked at the differences between the

way rich people and poor people drive. What did you find out there?

Paul Piff: The kind of car that you drive is a perfect indicator of your wealth. In

our studies, actually its a great indicator of wealth but you can imagine people who have

a lot of people who drive Bitter cars but nonetheless, we use that, the kind of car

that you drive, in a number of different studies that I should say have since been replicated

all over this country, but we use the kind of car that you drive to index how much money

you have and then we run a number of different studies to look at whether that predicted

how likely you were to drive according to the law.

Now in California, one of the largest states that if youre driving down the road and

youre approaching a crosswalk, if a pedestrian is waiting at that crosswalk to cross, its

the law that you have to stop for the person and allow them to cross and failing to do

so is a ticketable offense and I know a number of people who have actually gotten tickets

for doing just that thing, driving to the crosswalk without stopping. We actually posed

a person at a crosswalk in a really busy intersection of downtown Berkeley, have them approached

the crosswalk and wait to cross as the driver of the vehicle came down the roadway. We had

researchers actually literally hiding behind bushes coding what kind of car it was, is

it a Mercedes, BMW or an old Toyota Corolla. So coding what kind of car it is thats

coming down the road, a number of other things like how much traffic is there, the time of

day, the gender of the driver and then importantly whether the driver actually stops, yields

the right of way as is the law for that person who is waiting to cross. What we found pretty

consistently is actually none of the low status cars or least expensive cars broke the law.

We coded the number of them and they all stopped for the pedestrian.

Douglas Goldstein: How many cars have you looked at in the study?

Paul Piff: In this one study, we probably looked at around 200 in variations of it.

We looked at over 200, 300, 400, its since been replicated with thousands of different

cars in a number of different intersections so it has somewhat a surprisingly consistent

effect. We havent done this in other cultures and it would be really interesting for instance

having spent time in Israel and knowing what driving patterns are like in Israel to see

whether this kind of replicated there. Nonetheless, in this one variation of this car study that

we were in, there is this significant effect such that more expensive the car that you

drive was, the less likely you were to abide by the law. Close to 50% of drivers of those

most expensive vehicles, BMWs and Mercedes, actually broke the law whereas none of the

cars in our least expensive car categories did.

Douglas Goldstein: I

found that some of the wealthier people who are giving away huge amount of their income

to charity and Im talking about people who give 10-20% of their income every year

or more. How does that concept of philanthropy jive with what you found in your studies?

Paul Piff: The studies that I referenced are two examples of a big program or research

that Im involved with and other researchers are involved with where we not only look at

patterns of behavior in the real world like driving behavior but weve done close to

50 or 60 laboratory studies of how wealth, affluence, privilege and money shapes the

way that you behave, looking at generosity, charitable giving and compassion even on a

physiological level. So whether people show physiological signs of compassion when they

are exposed to other suffering and we find these consistent differences between those

that have and those that dont. Now thats not to say when you find the statistically

significant effect, of course there are going to be notable exceptions.

In this country alone, we have lots of notable exceptions to the patterns that we document,

people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and lots of other wealthy philanthropists who

are notable exceptions to the patterns that we document. A correlation does not mean that

its unilaterally true or that we can predict the behavior of specific individuals and just

like your anecdotal experience suggests. There are lots of reasons for why people do things

and there are lots of wealthy people that dont necessarily conformed to the patterns

that we document.

In the United States, theres a pattern thats been puzzling to a lot of people

for a long time who study charitable giving and that is that when you look at levels of

giving across all of the hundreds of millions of households in this country, for the last

50 years, theres been this really interesting significant effect such that higher income

households give proportionately less of their incomes to charity than do lower income households.

So the more money you make, the less likely you are to give portions of that money to

charity and that here has been a highly significant effect for a lot of time. One question would

be why is it and I think our research helps shed light on what it is thats going on

and with very notable acts of philanthropy, yes those are absolutely the case.

We have something called the giving pledge where lots of wealthy philanthropists, hundreds

of them are giving half of their fortunes to charity but in this case has noticed somewhat

differently from the situations that were looking at in the lab were giving as often

anonymous. Were measuring whether or not youre giving to a stranger in situations

where youll never meet that person and that other person never meets you. In the

cases that you might be talking about and certainly in the cases that Ive observed,

a lot of the philanthropy of wealthy individuals operates in very public settings where giving

as very public to institutions that are also very public and even potentially put the donations

name up on some flyer or the donors name up on some gymnasium and these are public

acts of philanthropy that often yield not necessarily a material gain but certainly

a social and reputational gain to the person who engages in that.

I think it once again suggest that for anything that a person does, theres a confluence

and different motivations and factors that shape why they do what they do, money is a

contributing factor but its not the only factor of course. Theres a persons values,

where they come from, how they were raise, and the culture they are in. There are a lot

of different things that shaped who a person is and what they do but money when you isolate

its effects, when you isolate wealths effect from the effects of other things, it consistently

in our studies has this really ironic socially costly effect on your behavior. It make you

a little more self serving and a little less oriented to the needs of other around you,

a little more likely to prioritize yourself less attuned, less sensitive to the needs

of others around you.

Douglas Goldstein: How would you make the wealthy people more empathetic?

Paul Piff: I would say generally is that wealth in many ways is a psychological buffer. It

insolates you from others. It allows you to [inaudible 0:13:29] yourself and you become

less needing of your social relationships and over time less prioritizing of those social

relationships. The way to reverse those effect, weve been finding in a number of different

laboratory studies is through simple nudges, remind people of the needs of others. What

we found is that when you bring wealthy people for instance into the lab and through even

brief videos, remind them of the needs of others in the social environment. They become

way more compassionate, way more empathetic, way more egalitarian and as a result, way

more likely to offer up their own help and their own resources for another person suggesting

that breaking through that psychological buffer of wealth through simple reminders, simple

contact, simple situational interventions goes a long way towards restoring patterns

of empathy.

Douglas Goldstein: How can people follow your work?

Paul Piff: The easiest way would be to just Google my name and go to my website. All of

our research and links to other peoples research is on my website

Douglas Goldstein, CFP, is the director of Profile Investment Services and the host

of the Goldstein on Gelt radio show (Monday nights at 7:00 PM on

He is a licensed financial professional both in the U.S. and Israel. Securities offered

through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, NFA, SIFMA. Accounts carried

by National Financial Services LLC. Member NYSE/SIPC, a Fidelity Investments company.

His book Building Wealth in Israel is available in bookstores, on the web, or can be ordered

at: (02) 624-2788 or (03) 524-0942.

Disclaimer: This document is a transcription and/or an educational article. While it is

believed to be current and accurate, divergence from the original is to be expected. The original

podcast can be heard at All information on this website is purely

information and should not be used as the sole basis for making financial decisions.

The opinions rendered herein are those of the guests, and not necessarily those of Douglas

Goldstein, Profile Investment Services, Ltd., or Israel National News. Readers should consult

with a professional financial advisor before making any financial decisions. Please see

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The Description of Paul Piff - Does Having Money Make You Mean? - interview - Goldstein on Gelt - Jan. 2014