Does money change your perception of a person?


Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us make judgements on the behaviour of others each and every day. Whether it is an argumentative person at the checkout in the supermarket, a crowd of youths on a street corner, or the actions of a friend who has upset you, we all do it and the list of occurrences where we do it goes on and on. Have you noticed though that often times, perceptions and judgements of a person’s behaviour can be different or change depending upon the amount of wealth they have? Or possibly even their celebrity or social status?

I started thinking about this when I was watching a television program the other day about the owner of a popular auction house in London. The program highlighted some of his strange and – if we’re being honest – quite weird behavioural traits. When the documentary makers chatted to his employees, one of them said something which I found really interesting. He said that ‘If you’re weird and you’re rich then you’re considered to be eccentric, but if you’re poor and you’re weird then you’re just the weirdo down the street’. It interested me because I think this really is true, how often do our perceptions of a person and their behaviour change just because of their status in society or their wealth?

Another example of this could be the quite brash manner in which many business people often deal with others. My wife used to be on the receiving end of it a lot when she worked in a popular retail office supplies store a few years ago. Almost every day she had to deal with an extremely rude person who didn’t show the slightest bit of respect, reason or gratitude. Yet how often do we hear things like ‘but you need to be like that to be successful in life’. Whether this is true or not is a discussion for another day but I just find it interesting how often we are willing to make allowances for another person’s behaviour just because they are wealthy, in a way that we probably wouldn’t if they weren’t so rich. If a less wealthy person were to behave in this sort of way then we would probably just view them as a nasty piece of work and avoid them, but when someone has wealth, well we’ll make allowances for it and sometimes it’s almost as though people admire it, with some even wishing to emulate it.

Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule. For some people it would appear that all of the wealth in the world can’t seem to make others put on their rose tinted glasses and view them in a more positive light. On the whole though I think it’s true to say that even though we shouldn’t, most people do make greater allowances for the actions or behavioural traits of the wealthy, more so than they would for a person who doesn’t have two pennies to rub together.

Do you think that money can change your perception of a person?

4 Responses to Does money change your perception of a person?

  1. Interesting article. I’m not sure how much my perceptions of a person change with their wealth, but I do feel that often people with obvious wealth act with a sense of entitlement that rubs me the wrong way. I try to treat everyone the same, regardless of their status.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Thanks Gary. I try to do the same myself but I definitely think that as a society, we are much more willing to overlook the not so great personality traits of a person when they have wealth.

  2. Janeen says:

    I wish I could say that money doesn’t change my perception, but I’d have to admit that it does a little. Not looking down at people with less, but if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that I automatically think a bit better about people that have more. That’s blown out of the water pretty quick though if they speak in an unkind or crass way.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Hi Janeen, thanks for your honesty and I think what you say is interesting. I wonder if we automatically give wealthy people respect until they do something to abuse it, whereas we might subconsciously make others do more to earn our respect from the get-go.

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