Science has asserted what people have already long-suspected: banking culture turns people into greedy little liars, reported Reuters. This study is the most recent piece of research that connects Wall Street-type wealth with horrible personality traits.
According to the study, published by the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, when bankers’ “professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest.” In short, the more importance placed on a banker, the more that the “prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm.”
“Many scandals . . . have plagued the financial industry in the last decade,” said Ernst Fehr, University of Zurich researcher and co-leader of the study. “These scandals raise the question whether the business culture in the banking industry is favouring, or at least tolerating, fraudulent or unethical behaviours.”
The study involved conducting a laboratory game with bankers and repeated the game with workers in other fields and industries. Initially, 128 employees, of all levels, at an international bank and 80 staff from various other banks were used.
Taken individually, each person was asked to flip a coin 10 times while unsupervised and report their results to the researchers. The test subjects knew whether each toss would yield a monetary reward.
As further incentive, each subject was told they could keep their rewards provided they were more than or equal to those of certain results from the pilot study, according to Reuters. Being that the maximum prize was $200, Fehr noted that there was “a considerable incentive to cheat” among the participants.
Those participants whose professions at the bank were emphasized, resulting from pre-test screening questions, reported 58.2 percent of their tosses as wins. That’s compared to 51.6 percent winning tosses by those participants whose profession wasn’t emphasized.
This study bears striking similarities to another study conducted by social psychologist Paul Piff who, along with fellow researchers at the University of California Berkeley, found that rich, over-privileged people are narcissistic, feel more entitled, and are more prone to cheating. The results were found by having test subjects participate in a rigged game of Monopoly.
The “rich player” received more more at the beginning of the game, and received double pay rewards compared to that of the “poor player.” Over the course of the game, the rich player “became more belligerent, aggressive, rude, and less compassionate of the poor player’s plight.” The experiment was a telling illustration of America’s income inequality problem.
Recent science has linked wealth to overall horribleness in people. The corporate CEOs, the Wall Street bankers, and trust fund babies who think the world has to bend to their will and pocketbook tend to exude this attitude. And what’s worse, they only make up one percent of the population, yet, they control everything and feel entitled to that control.