How Wealth Reduces Compassion

Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies looking at whether social class (as measured by wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influences how much we care about the feelings of others.

The findings from these studies seem to go against common thinking that the wealthier we are, the more likely we are to act fairly.

In one study, they found that less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion towards others on a regular basis.

In another study, they found that those with less income and education, were more likely to report feeling compassion while watching the video of the cancer patients.

These studies built upon previous research that showed how upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people they are interacting with (e.g. by checking their cell phones or doodling).

That can explain why as a country progresses in affluence, the rich and poor divide will get wider causing social upheaval later.

Such scientific research findings actually lend weight to our Lord’s Word that it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.  But of course, nothing is impossible with God.

Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 proved it is possible for a rich man to give up the hold of possessions to be our Lord’s disciple.  Luke 14:33.  Though the rich majority are likely to end up like the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-29 who turned away from Jesus sadly.

The church has to command those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable and tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 1 Tim 6:17-19.

If human nature tends to be less compassionate when getting wealthier,  how amazingly true is the exhortation of Scripture that it is great gain to live in contentment with godliness.  1 Tim 6:6-10.



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