As part of a very public resignation, a former senior investor at Goldman Sachs has remarked on the company’s poisonous corporate culture which encourages investors to cheat their clients. Might that kind of unethical behavior be more common among the rich and powerful? According to a 2010 study of 203 corporate executives, psychopathic behavior (which includes being manipulative, deceitful and unempathetic) was five times more common among the executives than in the general population.
What’s the Big Idea?
More recent experiments have demonstrated that people who associate greed with positive values—a view that correlates highly with having wealth—are more likely to behave unethically in a host of circumstances, including cutting off drivers in traffic and cheating while gambling. In fact, research shows that simply being in the presence of physical wealth reduces people’s propensity to share. Of course not all financial professionals are liars and cheats but the industry, by its nature, seems prone to unethical behavior.