People tend to have less trouble hearing details about the extreme wealth of a particular wealthy person, even if those people believe that it is unfair that billionaires in general control so much wealth in the world.
That is, when we look at a person at the top, we tend to think that that person is talented and hardworking and that they deserve more all the money they have earned. But it is not what happens if we look at an entire social class at the top .
Taxes on the rich
That’s what Jesse Walker , co-author of a new study on this topic and an assistant professor of marketing at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, says. This is why people are more likely to support taxes on the super-rich when they think of a group as the top 1%, but they are less likely to support these taxes when they think of a specific wealthy person .
In the study, participants were shown the cover of a Forbes magazine. Half saw an adapted cover of an issue highlighting the richest people in the world. The cover was edited to remove five billionaires most people were familiar with, such as Gates and Winfrey, in order to remove any positive or negative biases that people might have towards them. It included just seven billionaires that most people wouldn’t know about or feel very much about .
The other half were shown a cover with just one of the seven billionaires.
After reading a short description of the person or people on the cover, the participants were asked to write a few sentences that conveyed how they felt about the person or people, and rate how much the person or people deserved their wealth and how they thought they it had been done with such grace .
The question of how we think about politics regarding inequality is important, according to Walker. Economic inequality has grown substantially in recent decades , particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. One analysis suggests that American billionaires saw their wealth increase by $ 1.8 trillion (62%) during the pandemic .