Why the rich may appear insensitive

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- People with higher social status have more trouble recognizing others' emotions that those with poorer prospects, U.S. and Canadian researchers suggest.

Michael W. Kraus of the University of California-San Francisco, Stephane Cote of the University of Toronto and Dacher Keltner of the University of California-Berkeley suggest people of upper-class status -- who have more educational opportunities, greater financial security and better job prospects -- aren't very good at recognizing the emotions other people are feeling.


The researchers speculate that this may be because they aren't dependent on people around them.

The researchers conducted an experiment involving university volunteers -- some who graduated from college and others who had not. The researchers say they used educational level as a proxy for social class.

The subjects were instructed to look at pictures of faces and indicate which emotions each face was displaying.

Those with more education had a harder time reading the emotions than people with less education.

In another experiment, university students of higher social standing -- determined from the student's self-reported perceptions of his or her family's socioeconomic status -- had a more difficult time accurately reading the emotions of a stranger during a group job interview.


The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.

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