Heroes

Science Explains Why Rich People Don't Care About You

Turns out the more often you need help, the more likely you are to give help.

Our nervous system sure does seem to support the claim that caring for each other is core to human survival.

It's like our brains were built to share each other's experiences. We have mirror neurons!


So why is it that the poor are so often more charitable and cooperative than the rich?

And they really are more charitable. University of California Berkeley psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner has been studying this. He and his team showed rich people and poor people universal images of suffering like people starving or in pain.

Here's what he found.

Poor communities often see its members in need and are more likely to come together to help each other.

Even though they have less resources to spread around, they somehow know that they can accomplish more together than they can separately.

But if you don't need help very often, you don't cooperate very often.

If you don't cooperate very often, it's harder to feel compassion and empathy for others. It becomes easy to assume that no one else needs help because you don't need help. It becomes harder to put yourself in other people's shoes because you don't have to do it very often.

But you don't have to be rich to lose your empathy.

Think of it like a muscle. Look for opportunities to cooperate and help others. Challenge yourself to get those mirror neurons going and put yourself in other people's shoes (especially if you disagree with them).

Don't stop now! Trust me, there's way more to the science of kindness.

And you don't want to miss it.

I live in Washington, the state with the first official outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. While my family lives several hours from Seattle, it was alarming to be near the epicenter—especially early in the pandemic when we knew even less about the coronavirus than we know now.

As tracking websites went up and statistics started pouring in, things looked hairy for Washington. But not for long. We could have and should have shut everything down faster than we did, but Governor Inslee took the necessary steps to keep the virus from flying completely out of control. He's consistently gotten heat from all sides, but in general he listened to the infectious disease experts and followed the lead of public health officials—which is exactly what government needs to do in a pandemic.

As a result, we've spent the past several months watching Washington state drop from the #1 hotspot down to 23rd in the nation (as of today) for total coronavirus cases. In cases per million population, we're faring even better at number 38. We have a few counties where outbreaks are pretty bad, and cases have slowly started to rise as the state has reopened—which was to be expected—but I've felt quite satisfied with how it's been handled at the state level. The combination of strong state leadership and county-by-county reopenings has born statistically impressive results—especially considering the fact that we didn't have the lead time that other states did to prepare for the outbreak.

Keep Reading Show less