Throughout history, a "gentleman" was something the lower classes deferred to and aspired to be. But now new research reveals that, paradoxically, those most likely to indulge in unethical, ungentlemanly actions and the upper classes themselves!
Writing in PNAS, University of California, Berkeley scientist Paul Piff and his colleagues present a series of seven simple studies that appear to show a clear trend towards downright ungamely behaviour with rising social status.
The researchers stood at a Zebra crossing in view of approaching cars to see whether they would stop to allow them to cross. In each case they used the size, make and model of the car as a proxy for the social class of the driver. Drivers with the fanciest wheels, the team found, failed to stop nearly 50% of the time, compared with 25% of drivers sporting more modest forms of transport.
The researchers also made similar observations at a road junction to see which cars tended to give way to others when they should. Again, drivers judged to be "upper class" were over 6 times more likely to cut up another motorist than their lowlier counterparts.
In a further study, volunteers read scenarios in which an actor profited unfairly from a series of situations and then indicated how likely they would be to behave the same way. Again, upper class volunteers tended to behave more unethically.
And in a test in which volunteers had to report the scores from a series of computerised dice rolls to win a cash prize, higher classed players inflated their scores significantly more often.
According to the team, "abundant resources and elevated rank allow upper class individuals increased freedom and independence, giving rise to self-focused patterns of social cognition and behaviour."
They also go on to conclude that "unethical behaviour in the service of self-interest that enhances the individual's wealth and rank may be a self-perpetuating dynamic that further exacerbates economic disparities in society..."
In part, it really depends on what one means by "Gentlemanly".
In fact, all the sentences in your reply use 4-letter words :-) In the referenced article the concept of a gentleman was defined in his treatment of others and not to do with having a "limited" vocabulary. Also, I think the use of profanities by an individual can depend on who he is talking to and/or where he is. If you go back 50 years, it was common for working men to swear a lot but rare for them to do so in front of a child or a woman and even rarer to hear the "F" word (and almost never the "C" word) except on occasions with their workmates. I think the role of women has changed so that they are not protected from this now and, indeed, you sometimes hear women mouthing off just as much as any bloke.
There is, of course, the saying "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Well said Imatfaal and I also agree with Clifford that not all politicians are bad. I even think that most mean well but are corrupted by the necessities of their job as politicians. We get the politicians we deserve (as nations); democracies only work if there is a well informed populace and, sadly, this is not the case.
For a start, the "lower social classes" are an invention of those who got lucky. The great thing, or depending on your point of view, possibly the worst thing, about the US, is that it strips away any notion of class and replaces it with money! You don't have to have money to be classy, and just because you have money you are not automatically classy (QED a long list of people).
You are largely right, Geezer. I am one of the of unappreciated engineers :-) However, I made a conscious decision to not move to the USA in 1980 after being offered a good job at Intel (in Aloha, Oregon) and started my own company instead. I had just started a family so had to decide whether I wanted my children to grow up with British or UK values, and seeing the recent choices for the Republican primaries, I am not sure that I made a wrong decision here :-). I feel many people in science are not attracted by the positions taken by some US politicians on scientific matters, though engineering is different in this respect. The UK also has its own set of problems and I'm not blind to these, so the decision was not a clear one - and Oregon is a very nice place despite it being just after Mt St Helens had gone bang. Money is also nice to have, but it is not a main driving factor for me. I used to play cricket, and had planned to set up an Intel team with British, Indian and Pakistani expats, but I knew that it would be hard to get the fixtures, at least without travelling 100s of miles to get a game! This was important for me. As was the really lousy standard of US TV at the time. There were many other considerations too. Anyway, I have done OK in the UK and I can't tell where I'd be if I'd have moved to the US.
Don't know about then. Today there does seem to be an attitude of entitlement amongst the wealthy classes. Which can lead to rude behavior being more common. But then rude behavior seems to be the norm amongst most classes these days. Rude behavior, for whatever reason, has become the norm.