Wealthy people may be likely to oppose redistribution of wealth because they have biased information about how wealthy most people actually are, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings indicate that people use their own neighborhoods and communities as a gauge of how much wealth other people possess, leading wealthy people to perceive the broader population as being wealthier than it actually is.
“If you’re rich, there’s a good chance you know lots of other rich people and relatively few poor people; likewise, if you’re poor, you’re likely to know fewer wealthy people and more poorer ones,” says study co-author Robbie Sutton. “Even if people think objectively and follow rules of statistical inference, richer and poorer people may be led, by the information available to them, to very different conclusions about how wealthy their fellow citizens are, on average, and how wealth is distributed across society.”
For the full paper go to R. J. Dawtry, R. M. Sutton, C. G. Sibley. Why Wealthier People Think People Are Wealthier, and Why It Matters: From Social Sampling to Attitudes to Redistribution. Psychological Science, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0956797615586560