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Rich people pay less attention to other people.

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Because rich people can afford to ignore other people.

No one can pay attention to everything they encounter. We simply do not have enough time or mental capacity for it. Most of us, though, do make an effort to acknowledge our fellow humans. Wealth, it seems, might change that.

There’s a growing body of research showing how having money changes the way people see—or are oblivious to—others and their problems. The latest is a paper published in the journal Psychological Science in which psychologists at New York University show that wealthy people unconsciously pay less attention to passersby on the street.

In the paper, the researchers describe experiments they conducted to measure the effects of social class on what’s called the “motivational relevance” of other human beings. According to some schools of psychological thought, we’re motivated to pay attention to something when we assign more value to it, whether because it threatens us or offers the potential for some kind of reward.

A relevant passage from the article:

Psychologist Daniel Goleman explained that Keltner’s and other social psychologists’ work shows that “financial difference ends up creating a behavioral difference. Poor people are better attuned to interpersonal relations…than the rich are, because they have to be.”

The theory seems to be that "the Rich" have traditional money capital to spend, the poor need to trade in social capital, and so develop the ability to maximize that social capital better.

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