Are the rich more selfish than the poor, or do they just have more money?

Are the rich more selfish than the poor, or do they just have more money? It is the main question in the field experiment of Jan Stoop, associate professor Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, and two American colleagues. The result? As a group, the rich are not more selfish than the poor. 

During the experiment, Stoop and his colleagues 'misdelivered' envelopes filled with 20 or 5 euro at rich as well as poor households. The rich households returned the envelope twice as often as the poor. The difference in behavior (envelopes returned) is affected by the need for cash, and financial stress. Correcting for this, the results show no difference in preferences (norms and values) between the two social classes.


Publication date: 16 March 2017