Does money make you bad?


Does having money and status make you more likely to be a bad person?

Discover what Paul Piff’s fascinating research reveals about money and human behaviour.


Paul Piff, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, studies how wealth affects people’s behaviour. In this 16-minute long TED-talk Paul reveals some rather nasty findings.

In particular, his research indicates that the more wealth and status you have the more
self-focused and less ethical you’ll be.This is scary as we know that most people who make the big decisions in our world are both wealthy and have high social status.

Paul’s research also made me think of how important money is for living a happy life.

For sure, having enough money to provide for our basic needs such as food and shelter is crucial. But, if Mr. Piff’s research is right and having more money leads to less compassion and ethical behaviour, will rich people live less happier lives?

I think Abraham Lincoln answered this question wisely: “When I do good I feel good; when I do bad I feel bad, and that is my religion”. Said differently, if you’re amongst the people of wealth and status who lack compassion and morals you will suffer.

So what’s the take home message from all if this?

Interestingly, some people have criticised my post on the four most important things in life as it doesn’t include money. I think having enough money to meet your basic needs is critical, but I’m not convinced that money beyond that will lead to you living a happier life.

To me it seems that people who already have lots of money and status should take a look in the mirror and evaluate how nice they are being to others. And, perhaps people whose main goal in life is to make money should think twice before pursuing such a goal.

Now I want to hear what you think

Does being rich and having social status often lead to less compassionate and ethical behaviour?

How important is money is for living a happy life?


NB: I’ve borrowed the breaking bad photo from here. Thanks.

One thought on “Does money make you bad?

  1. Lara

    I don’t know if money makes you bad. I think it depends on your character. Some are saying that owning a big amount of money shows, who you really are.

    But there are two points, that I was thinking of: the first thing is, that people always tend to get more. Bigger, better, faster, …-er. The big fishes in the business, why are they still aquiring so much money when they already have so much that not even their whole family and friends could spend it in a lifetime? There is no reason! (A book i can recommend by Skidelsky “How much is enough”)

    The character of humans is trivial. A lot of answers you find by looking back 10000 years ago. Good things were rare: health, safety, food, shelter. So if you found something good to eat, you ate as much as possible – even when you weren’t hungry anymore. Just in case that bad times are coming! And today, some people are making money to make money to make money. There is no reason. Especially when the work you have to do for it is as virtual as it is today: online deals, selling virtual bank papers, etc.
    But there is a limit of legality you have to pass, to get to even more money. And that’s the point I think. A lot of people, who absolutely want to make money for the sake of money, have to do illegal things to get there. And illegal things are actions, that hurt others

    Second is another point of view of this theme: Money and happiness. I think you always have to ask yourself, what makes you happy. Is it really that Louis Vuitton bag you have to own to feel prettier or special? (Or is it advertising that tells you so?) Does it improve your life quality, if there is written “Louis Vuitton” or a NoName -Brand on your bag? Does it make you a sexier person?
    Because there is no gain of life quality!

    You can’t sleep on more than one or two pillows at the same time, you can’t be faster with a 700PS car in the city, when there are speed limitations and traffic… You can’t eat better than fresh organic food (unless you get a very nice chef, but even that you can replace by learning how to cook).

    And that is something very interesting and something “conciliating”: Above a certain amount of money, your life quality doesn’t get better than better. This amount, scientist figured out (for example one of them is Martin Binder from the Max-Planck-Institut for economy in Jena, Germany), is around a monthly income of aproximate 8000 Euros. And voilĂ , that is something realistic to achieve! Enough to live a good life, enough to be free. Enough to give back- to the nature that gives me a home and the people that give me friends and a family.


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