It is obvious that Elon Musk or Bill Gates do not like everyone – and each one has gone through their own times and their controversies – but it seems evident from the amount of content that is published about their tastes , routines and interests that are two people who are mostly followed or admired.
However, there seems to be a disconnect, since for the most part we do not feel the same admiration for people who are richer than the average.
Ohio State University and Cornell University have published new research showing why people tend to admire individual billionaires, but generally dislike wealthy people.
We like rich individuals, but not the rich as a group.
The study, which involved 2,800 people in eight different experiments, found that people often believe that individuals get rich because they are smart, talented and hard-working, and they deserve their wealth.
But when it comes to groups of wealthy people, such as senior executives (a case that was proposed to the study participants), most people have a more cynical view.
They attribute the wealth of these groups to luck and an economic system that favors them, according to the study extract.
In one experiment in the study, participants read the same data (that the salaries of the CEOs of the 350 largest companies in the United States had risen from 48 times those of the average worker in 1995 to 372 times in the actuality) but presented in two different ways.
One group read that all CEO salaries had increased, while another group read about a specific CEO of a large company, Phoenix-based electronics company Avnet, whose salary had increased. In the second group there were many more people who said that CEOs deserved to earn more than the average employee.
Tolerance for wealth
These findings could have real-world implications: The findings state that the way politicians and the media talk about wealth and inequality can influence people’s tolerance for extreme wealth disparities.
According to the study, people are more likely to support taxes on the wealth of the super-rich when they think of a group of billionaires than an individual person.
Some billionaires have spoken in recent years of closing that gap. Gates, for example, wrote in a blog post in December 2019 that he supports a higher capital gains tax, which is a tax on money put into investments, and a state income tax in his home state of Washington.
“A few people end up with a great business – I have been disproportionately rewarded for the work I have done – while many others who work just as hard struggle to get ahead,” Gates wrote.