Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish…. “We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.” … There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal. The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.This can hardly be more a surprise than the results of the Milgram Experiment, revealing most human beings are conformist even when it makes them cruel, or Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, revealing the proneness of human beings to abusive and authoritarian behavior should institutional conditions conduce to it.
That human beings in the main are parochial, hierarchical, and prone to rationalize their errors and bad behavior has been well attested since at least Aristotle's Rhetoric recommended ways these frailties might be exploited and circumvented by politicians. Indeed, the whole of politics from an ethical vantage is the creation of a space of conviction and consent -- identified with the state -- the aspiration toward which ameliorates these tendencies, just as the whole of ethics from a political vantage is the creation of space of liberty and open futurity -- enabled by the state -- the experience of which makes sociality a blessing rather than a curse despite these tendencies.