Affluent people less likely to reach out to others in times of chaos, study suggests Aug. 30, 2012
Crises are said to bring people closer together. But a new study from UC Berkeley suggests that while the have-nots reach out to one another in times of trouble, the wealthy are more apt to find comfort in material possessions.
- While chaos drives some to seek comfort in friends and family, others gravitate toward money and material possessions“
- In times of uncertainty, we see a dramatic polarization, with the rich more focused on holding onto and attaining wealth and the poor spending more time with friends and loved ones,”
Chaos is defined in the study as “the feeling that the world is unknown, unpredictable, seemingly random … a general sense that the world and one’s life have turned uncertain and topsy-turvy.” This uncertainty typically triggers either a fight-or-flight or a “tend-and-befriend” response, which researchers used to assess participants reactions to induced stress. support networks. “Given the very different forms of coping that we observe among the upper and lower classes, our research suggests that in times of economic uncertainty and social instability, disparities between the haves and the have-nots could grow ever wider,”
They also help explain why, in times of turmoil, people can become more polarized in their responses to uncertainty and chaos…“material wealth may be a particularly salient, accessible and preferred individual coping mechanism … when they are threatened by perceptions of chaos within the social environment.”