Why rich people have worse relationship decisions?
You can’t win it all. You may be good at something but do poorly in the other area. We are imperfect. Even the most affluent people, despite having all the resources, they make poor decisions.
In fact, in some instances, poor people have wiser decisions than the rich ones. This difference in decision making was found in relationship contexts and social connections. Poor people have a better relationship with their loved ones, friends, family members, and with their co-workers.
In a study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers examined the relationship between social class and reasoning. More than 5000 people participated in the study. The participants came from the unemployed to upper-class Americans.
The researchers wanted to determine the “wise reasoning style” of the participants. During the study, the researchers instructed the participants to recall their recent experiences with their friends and co-workers.
A person with wise reasoning style may be able to:
- Recognize that life is full of uncertainties and changes
- View things in others’ perspectives
- Consider both sides of the argument
- Find ways to compromise and resolve conflicts
The findings suggest that people in the upper class have a lower level of wise reasoning. The same result was found across regions in the United States.
This low wise reasoning level among the high-income population is unrelated to IQ, age, gender, and personality traits.
What makes wiser successful people make poor relationship decisions?
The authors suspect that, because wealthy people have acquired higher status in the society, they might have underestimated others’ capability. Their personal success may have appeared more important to them than interpersonal relationships.
Igor Grossman, the study’s leading author writes (as he told TIME through email); “The rich may have the affordances that provide the foundation for higher education and potential for wealth, but they may have less of the affordances that teach them – or force them – to reason wisely about interpersonal conflicts.”
However, the differences in reasoning found in the study only pertain to resolving or dealing with interpersonal conflicts. The study’s author made it clear that the results can not account for decision makings in other areas of life such as careers and finances.
Lastly, the authors remark that, in order for people to be wiser, they need to develop a more fluid mindset. “Take a third-person perspective and the perspective of the other person in the situation. Understand that situations and perspectives can change in time and the importance of collaborating and cooperating to maintain long-term relationships,” said Grossman.
Being poor may not always bad. There are many things that underprivileged people enjoy that a rich person doesn’t. One of those things is better relationship decisions.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.