The A hole effect

The brain works in mysterious ways and not always the way we want. New brain science shows that money make us less human. You may not want to be to rich.

Most of us are dreaming of and working for having more money, allowing us to achieve some of our goals in life. But it seems like that money have effects in our brains that may make you want to change your aim for better financials. New amazing research calls it the asshole effect, in a popularized definition.


The brain makes rich people more selfish when resources are up for grabs.

The Guardian (Anne Manne 7 July 2014) has published an article about the research of the psychologist Paul Piff of what happens with our brains when we get rich. Even if the research doesn’t affect your personal goal pursuit here and now, the findings are important and will probably have a mayor impact in your future in ways that you will not like.

You are in the hands of the very rich. Just consider that in a country like Australia, 1% of the people has the same wealth as 60% of the population. That means few people owing and controlling most things around you.  And lets face it; you will probably not be one of the 1% people in your country. The research shows that the wealth of the rich has a negative effect on how their brains are working in a society perspective.

“There’s this idea that the more you have, the less entitled and more grateful you feel; and the less you have, the more you feel you deserve. That’s not what we find,” Piff said. “This seems to be the opposite of noblesse oblige.”

Some Piff experiments:

– Real life observations of car driver behaviour while crossing roads.  Piff found out that drivers of expensive cars more frequent than cheap car drivers (like Toyotas) have a selfish and aggressive behaviour.  “ Drivers of high-status vehicles were three times as likely to fail to yield at pedestrian crossings. In contrast, all the drivers of the least expensive type of car gave way to pedestrians.”

– In a laboratory test with students he found out that the richest students were more likely to “steal or benefit from things to which they were not entitled”. Remarkable was that students primed to feel rich helped themselves to sweets meant for children in a lab next door.

– Wealthy people were more likely to agree on statements like “ I honestly feel I’m just more deserving than other people.” When asked to be photographed wealthy people were more likely to go to the mirror to check their looks. When they where asked do draw a circle that represents them they draw wider circles than normal people.

It turns out that just a thought in your brain of being wealthy may make you feel more superior deserving a special treatment. Being rich often means being more narcissist, living  a “I’m worth it” lifestyle and having less tolerance with others.


Taking part of this new research makes it quite obvious that we have to be aware of how wealth is distributed. There is a big risk that the wealth built in society will stay with the very rich who by default thinks; “Why should I use my hard earned cash for those inferior scroungers, the poor”

Piff says:

”The more severe inequality becomes, the more entitled people may feel and less likely to share resources they become. The wealthier [that] segments of society become then, the more vulnerable communities may be to selfish tendencies and the less charity the least among us can expect.”

In US 2011 top earnings 20% contributed 1,3% of their income to charity. The bottom 20% contributed 3,2% of their income. The rich gave to galleries, museums and Universities. Organisations like Feeding America (helping the poorest) got almost nothing. The poor people spend their money the other way around.

The brain works in mysterious ways

We don’t react to things the way we think and the way we react may not be in line with who we want to be. The new research may be hot in the coming Swedish election. It will be interesting to follow the impact.  Lets hope the research get´s through the perceptual defense of our brains.