Poorer people more compassionate

December 21st, 2011 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 21 (IANS) Poorer people are more attuned to suffering and more compassionate than their richer counterparts, says a study.

“It’s not that the upper classes are coldhearted,” said social psychologist Jennifer Stellar from University of California-Berkeley, who led the study.

“They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives,” the journal Emotion reported.

Stellar and her colleagues’ findings challenge previous studies that have characterized lower-class people as being more prone to anxiety and hostility in the face of adversity, according to a university statement.

“These latest results indicate that there’s a culture of compassion and cooperation among lower-class individuals that may be born out of threats to their wellbeing,” Stellar said.

It has not escaped the researchers’ attention that the findings come at a time of rising class tension, expressed in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Rather than widen the class divide, Stellar said she would like to see the findings promote understanding of different class cultures.

“Upper-class individuals appear to be more self-focused, they’ve grown up with more freedom and autonomy. They may do better in an individualist, competitive environment, she said.

More than 300 ethnically diverse young adults were recruited for the UC Berkeley study, which was divided into three experiments that used three separate groups of participants.

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