Those with less give more

Taya Flores of the Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier offers a story based on new finding in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which indicate that poor people are more generous than rich people..

"What we find counterintuitively ... is that the needy or the relatively less wealthy are actually more generous," said Paul Piff, lead author of the study. "They are more giving toward other people (and) they care more about the needs of others in their social surroundings."

Piff, who is a doctoral student in social and personality psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, said about half of the study participants made less than $35,000 on average as their household income. But income was not the only factor that the researchers used to designate social class. Other factors included educational attainment and the participant's view of his or her social status.

Even when controlling certain variables that are often linked to altruistic behavior, such as a person's religiosity, the researchers still found that lower-class individuals gave more in one study that tested generosity.

Piff said the main reason that lower class individuals seem to be more prone to altruistic behavior is because they rely less on economic resources and more on other people in their communities.

Is there a means, other than self-interest, to inspire affluent people to contribute more generously to charity? And to what extent do the values of the American meritocracy, in which everything can always be done a little bit better if you just spend a little more money on your own agenda, mitigate against being generous to those one does not know?

Comments (2)

We could, foreseeing our fallenness and consequent weakness and tendency to casuistry in the heat of the moment, make rules for ourselves about how much we give monetarily to those less fortunate. Then we could give them the force of law.

But that'd be socialism.

Mike Lockaby

Sliced another way, conservatives give more than liberals. The reason is conservatives tend to be more religious. Which points to another fact: the religious tend to give more to their church. And what do churches do with that money? A big chunk goes to maintaining buildings.

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