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The Rich and Educated Believe Wealth Correlates with Virtue, Says Study

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A study of social class -- defined by annual income and by education-level -- finds that "Social class rank was positively associated with essentialist beliefs [beliefs that genetics is more important than environment in explaining social class]. ... Social class rank was also positively associated with both belief in a just world ... and meritocracy beliefs, ... suggesting that upper-class ... individuals are more likely to believe that society is fair and just than are their lower-class rank counterparts."

 

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This study,  "Social Class Rank, Essentialism, and Punitive Judgment,"  was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and was performed by Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner, two leading social scientists, whose investigations of the moralities that are applied respectively by the rich and by the poor, are contributing importantly to our understanding of society, of politics, of law, and of economics.

This research found that "Upper-class ... individuals were more likely to endorse beliefs that social class is an inherent, stable, and biologically determined social category relative to their lower-class ... counterparts. Moreover, this pattern emerged after accounting for both political attitudes and material resource measures of social class. ... Beliefs that society is fair and just explained the tendency among upper-class ... individuals to endorse essentialist [biological] beliefs about social class." Thus: the richer and more educated a person was, the more that he thought the world is just, and the more he attributed his being upper-class to his supposed inborn superiority, rather than to the circumstance of his having been born from rich parents who possessed the money to send him to college and perhaps to an expensive university.

Rich and educated people were more supportive of punishment as a means of retribution; poor and uneducated people were more supportive of punishment as a means of reforming the criminal and of (via fines, etc.) restoring to the victims what they had lost from the crime. "Moreover, relationships among social class rank, essentialist beliefs, and punitive judgments could not be accounted for by measures of individuals' material resources or political orientation." In other words: even "liberal" rich tend to be more favorable to retribution than are "liberal" poor.

In summary: "Upper-class ... individuals would be more likely to endorse essentialist lay theories of social class categories (i.e., that social class is founded in genetically based, biological differences) than would lower-class ... individuals and ... these beliefs would decrease support for restorative justice -- which seeks to rehabilitate offenders, rather than punish unlawful action."

The consequences, for example, for jury-selection are clear: A jurist who is upper-class will probably be prejudiced in favor of upper-class defendants, especially if that defendant is even higher class than that juror; but a jurist who is lower-class will be less likely to be prejudiced at all, and will be more likely to be skeptical not only of the defense, but also of the prosecution, and of the very system of justice itself. In other words: upper-class individuals are usually authoritarians, and they tend to believe that people below themselves in the social order are morally inferior; and, so, a defense attorney will do well to admit as a juror an upper-class person if his defendant is upper-class (especially if the defendant is of an even higher class than that prospective juror), but, otherwise, to admit as a juror a lower-class person, since lower-class persons will be less likely to evaluate a defendant by his class, than an upper-class person will.

These same two researchers, plus Paul K. Piff, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, and Michelle L Rheinschmidt, also headlined in the July 2012 Psychological Review"Social Class, Solipsism, and Contextualism: How the Rich Are Different From the Poor,"  and they reported that, "Lower-income participants were more likely to endorse contextual explanations for individual wealth and poverty (e.g., political influence, discrimination), whereas upper-income participants were more likely to endorse dispositional explanations (e.g., hard work, effort)." (After all, the poor knew: lots of extremely hard-working people are poor.) Furthermore, these researchers found that there was an "advantage lower-class individuals enjoy over the upper class in reading the emotions of others." Consequently, it's easier to deceive an upper-class person, whereas a lower-class juror will likelier read a witness's true feelings.

Those findings thus suggest that lower-class persons are likelier to render true opinions as jurors, and that upper-class persons are likelier to render false opinions.

A study by M. Catherine Miller in The Journal of American History, December 2001, was titled,  "Finding "the More Satisfactory Type of Jurymen' : Class and the Construction of Federal Juries, 1926-1954," and Miller described how federal policy during that period focused specifically on finding jurors who were thought to be superior enough to be able to judge others. Perhaps in light of recent findings by social scientists, the truly superior defense attorneys will recognize that upper-class people are actually the least likely to render accurate verdicts, and these lawyers, to the extent that they want the truth to come out in court, will instead be aiming to find jurors who are "inferior" enough to be likely to be able to render true verdicts.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 and of   CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .

 

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)
 
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Then education must truly be corrupting many minds... by carol carter on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:38:53 PM
Watch Charles Ferguson's documentary "The Inside J... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 5:41:13 PM
Interesting article.  Unfortunately, contrary... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 12:34:42 PM
Thanks for the link to your article on right to ju... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:18:25 PM
The first jury trial right which was stolen was wh... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 3:02:13 PM
It's the epitome of rationalizations, and of cours... by E. J. N. on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 2:00:30 PM
What was intuitive is now supported by research . ... by John Rachel on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 3:34:09 PM
John, good info.I visited your site and tried to p... by Alan MacDonald on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 4:43:07 PM
Whether the explanation for who gets rich or who g... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 4:41:42 PM
         ... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 5:22:08 PM
Yeah, that sounds about right. Plausible.... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 6:14:24 PM
On 27 February 2012, the Proceedin... by Eric Zuesse on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 5:23:44 PM
I took my webname not only from the Swiss hero, bu... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 5:37:42 PM
"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to l... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 6:21:53 PM
"Larger feelings of entitlement" Yeah, that too is... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 6:15:25 PM
I guess I should explain that I am not challenging... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:43:56 PM
Of course, there's much room here for bias on the ... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:54:50 PM
I doubt that I will get around, in this lifetime, ... by Charles Roll on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:59:27 PM
Hey everyone, nice write-up of some of the researc... by Michael Kraus on Monday, Dec 2, 2013 at 9:43:25 PM
Single most interesting conclusion of all was that... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 3:35:29 AM
What an honor to have you comment here on my news ... by Eric Zuesse on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 6:33:50 AM
I realize this is about wealth, not education, but... by Michael David Morrissey on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 4:42:20 AM
You raise some good points but your basic claim is... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 9:00:59 AM
I was merely saying that polls show that relativel... by Michael David Morrissey on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 10:42:55 AM
A recent series of studies shows that the more edu... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 12:51:03 PM
Correction - The stupidest people do not run the s... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 7:25:11 PM
Thanks for the links, Mark. And to think I once co... by Michael David Morrissey on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 2:56:40 AM
Thanks, Michael.Lawyers have the capacity to learn... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 2:44:20 PM
To the last real lawyer, Honorable you.As the man ... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 3:25:32 PM
LOL!!!  You aren't interested in researching ... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 7:45:03 PM
Can a treaty trump the Constitution - no.... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:16:19 PM
I think that you have it upside down. Of course, y... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 5:24:31 AM
Your link to "the stupidest people of all" is to a... by Eric Zuesse on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 9:03:34 AM
So, shoot the messenger rather than debate the mer... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:19:42 PM
The reason why Coors, Mellon-Scaife, David Koch, a... by Eric Zuesse on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 2:30:44 PM
Scalia? Disallowing the FL recount in 2000 and let... by Michael David Morrissey on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 3:28:08 PM
But I already responded to this when I said to Mar... by Eric Zuesse on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 4:25:54 PM
Good for Dr PCR and you.... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:02:30 PM
Still shooting the messenger, but in your quest fo... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 7:37:44 PM
Can a treaty trump the Constitution - No, of cours... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:18:26 PM
It's nice to know that you are paying attention.&n... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 11:53:41 AM
No, I picked the one that I could figure out. This... by BFalcon on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 12:42:29 PM
The TPP 'agreement' isn't even a treaty, as that i... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:34:25 PM
An agreement between nations is a treaty.  Of... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 3:53:22 PM
I took the full exam, got a score of 100% ... but,... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:39:15 PM
There is something to your suspicion that there's ... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 5:54:02 PM
Here's an instance from the ISI page about persons... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:33:53 PM
It's obvious - knowing what ISI's ideology is - th... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:50:04 PM
A person who has served on a utility board upon he... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:53:31 PM
Most of the questions are not slanted, and even th... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 2:36:14 PM
Several points here -"as with any multiple choice ... by Charles Roll on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 7:18:21 PM
I still say that my critique of the 'free enterpri... by Charles Roll on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 7:26:17 PM
15 of the 33 questions were taken from exams devel... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 2:10:56 PM
It is a problem of unbalanced cognitions. Wealthy ... by Mark Whittington on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 7:46:44 AM
Doesn't seem like such a terrible idea to resubmit... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 11:43:48 AM
Naturally the rich and powerful are inclined to cu... by Jack Flanders on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 9:02:48 AM
Precisely.  IT WORKS FOR THEM!  If you'v... by Jill Herendeen on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:21:25 AM
Power and principle  -  we have a new po... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:13:56 PM
Back in the day when one could hitch hike across t... by E. J. N. on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 1:37:09 PM
Once again (I wrote about it in a comment above), ... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 2:30:56 PM
Yes, the question is, When will humanity "finally ... by E. J. N. on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 8:50:23 PM
I'm sorry to have to say that Your Declaration of ... by Guglielmo Tell on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 11:12:39 AM
Even though it does use a model suited to America ... by E. J. N. on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 2:33:26 PM
Carrying all these ideals into practice today mean... by Guglielmo Tell on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 4:07:18 PM
And this sense of responsibility's got to drive ev... by Guglielmo Tell on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 4:19:06 PM
Changing this situation around would be the first ... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 10:18:35 PM
In a democratic society, bowing down to the wealth... by Joy Zocco on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:33:29 AM
What we need is for the rest of us to agree that '... by Samson on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:59:14 AM