Day 03: Ted speaker Paul Piff believes money makes you mean.

For Day #3 of 365 Days of Ted I decided to watch a Ted talk by a psychologist called Paul Piff. The presentation ‘Does money make you mean?’ gets into the issue of how people act when they feel wealthy.   I wanted to watch this particular talk because  I am sucker for anything that has to do with psychology and social behavior. The talk starts off with Paul telling a story about a recent experiment he conducted that rigged a game of Monopoly. That alone is pretty risky – Monopoly can bring out the worst in people without the rigging! There were two monopoly players and one player was  given more money to begin with and some extra perks. The other player was dealt the standard money given and got no perks at all.

does money make you mean
Watching the clips of the monopoly players the interesting thing to observe is how the rich players got cockier the more wealthier they became. At first when they realised they had more cash they started boasting slightly, but they become ruder as their monopoly fortunes grew.  I should point out that early on in the game they cottoned on to the fact that the game was rigged. You think knowing this would make the rich player a little more humble. No at all.  By this point, the rich player had grown used to being the wealthier one and had put down their higher financial status to their own skills in the game. The rigged rich players found a way to justify their advantage and fob off the rigging.  The body language of the rich players also changed as the game progressed their moves were more assertive, louder and displayed signs of dominance and power. Think Donald Trump.

Will I be a mean girl?

 Will I be a mean girl if I become wealthy? Will you, reading this become a mean girl or boy if you become wealthy? If you are already wealthy, fess up,  are you a bit of a meanie?  The Game of Monopoly is a metaphor for society and the status hierarchies that are in it. Paul Piff and his colleagues have studied the different levels of hierarchy for years and they found that as wealth increases the level of compassion and empathy decreases and their feeling of entitlements increases.  Now obviously this doesn’t mean that this sense of entitlement  and putting your own interest above others is a trait held only by those well off, we are all human and we all seek some personal gain. However Paul’s study found that ‘the wealthier you are the more likely you are to pursue a vision of personal success of achievement to the detriment of others around you’

Paul citied quite a few experiments that supported this.  The one I found the most interesting involved a pedestrian crossing and passing motorists. That results of that experiment revealed that the more expensive a car was, the more likely the driver was to break the law and not stop for a waiting pedestrian. Watch Paul’s Ted talk presentation to watch footage of the experiment.

Strategies for change 

 A big part of my 365 Days of Ted is finding a way to implement something from the talk into my business or personal life.  I really struggled with today’s challenge as not being wealthy I didn’t feel like the issue of excess wealth is one that I can relate to.  I have no feeling of self-entitlement, I believe that hard work leads to entitlement, but only when it is not at the detriment of others. I donate when I can to causes that I feel a connection to, usually on a monthly basis but sometimes more often. So how can I implement today’s talk into my life? Well I have decided that each month I will talk about a charity that I feel a connection to and ask my readers if they are able to donate 1 hours pay each month either to the charity I blog about, or another charity of their own choice. Obviously you can donate more than the equivalent of 1 hours pay, or you may decide not to take part, and thats your choice too.   There won’t be any hard feelings.

Reach Foundation

I recently went to the annual Problogger Event on the Gold Coast and a spokesperson for The Reach foundation spoke about their organisation.  Reach foundations runs nationwide programs to help youth reach their potential.  The programs  and workshops help give teens the tools to deal with the pressures and stresses of everyday life, preparing them for adulthood.  They run camps that offers a safe place for teens to talk about whatever it is that is bothering them and helps lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. At the Problogger conference we saw a video called Jordan’s Story (below) about a teen whose life was heading down the wrong path when he ended up in trouble with the law for possession. The reach Foundation got involved and completely changed Jordan’s life.  What I love about this is that Reach got to the cause of what was causing Jordan to in his own words, stuff up, and that is what truly has the capacity to change lives.

Today’s action step

As soon as I hit submit I am going to donate an hours pay to Reach. If you would like to do so as well visit their Everyday Hero Australia campaign.