Does Money Breed Snobs? New Study Finds Link Between Narcissism And Wealth

August 28, 2013  |  

From ungrateful rich 15-year-olds screaming for brand-spankin’ new BMWs and back-talking their parents on MTV’s Super Sweet Sixteen to Scott Disick pompously toting a king’s scepter calling himself “Lord,” you have to wonder: Does wealth give us a sense of self-entitlement?  According to Time, it does.

Not only have investigators found that rich participants love to look at their reflection more frequently, but when asked to draw themselves as circles — in relation to their importance in society — they drew themselves as larger figures and others as smaller figures.

Wealthy participants were also more likely to agree with self-centered statements such as “I honestly feel I’m just more deserving than other people.”

Recent research has also found that when it comes to charity, rich donors will only give up 1.3 percent of their income while poorer donors surrender double that amount: 3.2 percent.

“[A] teenage patient [once] stomped in furious and feeling deprived because he was stuck driving his mother’s ‘mom-car Lexus’ rather than being given his own BMW,” Time says describing a child psychologist’s experience. “Their sense of entitlement is overpowering,” said Madeline Levine, who has long treated rich teens in her California practice.

Levine adds that narcissism doesn’t affect the host, but it aggravates the people around them. “How parents tolerate this kind of entitlement in their kids is kind of mind-boggling,” she added, noting that the teen boy got his BMW despite the attitude.

“Those with more highly educated and wealthier parents remained higher in their self-reported entitlement and narcissistic characteristics,” Paul Piff found, lead author of the study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

This leaves us with one question: Are self-centered people more driven to pursue wealth, or is it riches that causes narcissism?


“[T]his paper should not be read as saying that narcissists are more successful because we know from lots of other studies that that’s not true,” said Jean Twenge, author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Narcissism tends to wreck relationships both at home and at work; “therefore, is more likely to lead to unemployment and poverty, not success,” Time concludes.It is affluence, the study concludes, that creates society’s most troublesome snobs. Wealthy people must justify their exorbitant amounts of cash by convincing themselves that they’re more deserving of their riches.

The researchers suggest that in order to “fight” narcissism, the affluent must taught how to empathize. It’s not those who’ve worked hard and capitalized off their talents that are the problem. It’s the sons and daughters of the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs—whose riches are derived from inheritance not labor—that are raised to be apathetic to the lower-income population.

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