Upper Class People More Likely to Cheat

Despite the self serving concept of  “noblesse oblige”,  this report (which came to me via 3QuarksDaily) shouldn’t really be too surprising.

The title phrase “more likely to” doesn’t really suggest causation in either direction, but I suspect that it does actually work in both.

3QD commenter Jason Bosch points out that cheating (being the “defector” in a pool of cooperators) can be a source of wealth, and Elatia Harris aptly quotes Balzac: “The secret of great wealth with no obvious source is some forgotten crime, forgotten because it was done neatly.” But this last bit cuts both ways as it leaves the poor unsuccessful cheaters at the bottom of the heap – and unless we know how hard it is to cheat successfully we don’t know whether cheating per se is a net increaser or decreaser of status.

Successful cheaters are the ones who prosper without getting caught, and by doing so they get positive reinforcement for their cheating behaviour.

Another factor which might lead to the reverse causation (the one perhaps more likely to be inferred from the title) is the fact that those who are unjustly rich (whether by their own “earnings” or inheritance) are no less likely than anyone else to seek a story which justifies their wealth, and one effective such story is provided by a sense of entitlement (to whatever privileges happen to be available – including anything from children’s candy to handicapped parking spots).

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