A new study has suggested that a person’s social status doesn’t always affect his generosity – it depends on whether or not they feel worthy of their position. The series of six scientific studies led by Michigan State University scholar Nicholas Hays found that people with high social status who didn’t believe they earned that status were much more generous than high-status people who felt they deserved the respect and admiration of others.
Prominent people who don’t feel their status is fair and equitable become more generous with others to alleviate that sense of inequity, he explained.
“The effects of social status on generosity are contingent on deservingness, meaning that high-ranking people don’t always behave selfishly, as a significant amount of research suggests, but do indeed care about whether or not they deserve their position,” said Hays.
“We demonstrate that generosity may not persist once people achieve that high status,” Hays said. “It depends on whether they feel that status is deserved.”
The study appears online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.