It’s amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there’s good news too.





  • rig – manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to gain an advantage
  • unfold – (of events or information) gradually develop or be revealed
  • inevitable – certain to happen; unavoidable
  • entitled – believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment
  • detriment – the state of being harmed or damaged
  • pernicious – having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way
  • nudge – prod (someone) gently with one’s elbow in order to attract attention


Think about it

  • In what way is the game of Monopoly that Paul talks about different from the usual one? (1:41)
  • What differences began to emerge between players as the  game went on? (4:00)
  • What was one of most interesting findings of the study according to Paul? (4:50)
  • What have Paul and his team been studying for the past 7 years? What relation did they notice? (6:06)
  • Which of the studies that Paul mentions do you find most interesting? What do you think about them? (9:04)
  • What are the conclusions that Paul and his team have reached and what might they lead to in the future? (12:10)
  • What can be done to restore social equality?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Now this game of Monopoly can be used as a metaphor for understanding society and its ________ HIERARCHY structure, wherein some people have a lot of wealth and a lot of status, and a lot of people don’t. They have a lot less wealth and a lot less status and a lot less access to valued ________ SOURCE. And what my colleagues and I for the last seven years have been doing is studying the effects of these kinds of hierarchies. What we’ve been finding across dozens of studies and thousands of ________ PARTICIPATE across this country is that as a person’s levels of wealth increase, their feelings of compassion and empathy go down, and their feelings of ________ TITLE, of deservingness, and their ideology of self-interest increases. In surveys, we found that it’s actually wealthier individuals who are more likely to ________ MORAL greed being good, and that the ________ PURSUE of self-interest is favorable and moral. Now what I want to do today is talk about some of the implications of this ideology self-interest, talk about why we should care about those implications, and end with what might be done.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per plank space.

We’ve even studied cars, not just ________ cars, but whether drivers of different kinds of cars are more or less inclined ________ break the law. In one of these studies, we looked ________ whether drivers would stop for a pedestrian that we had posed waiting to cross at a crosswalk. Now in California, as you all know,because I’m sure we all do this, it’s the law to stop for a pedestrian who’s waiting to cross. So here’s an example of ________ we did it. That’s our confederate off to the left posing as a pedestrian. He approaches as the red truck successfully stops. In typical California fashion, it’s overtaken ________ the bus who almost runs our pedestrian ________. (Laughter) Now here’s an example of a more expensive car, a Prius, driving through, and a BMW doing the same. So we did this for hundreds of vehicles on several days, just tracking who stops and who doesn’t. What we found was that as the expensiveness of a car increased, the driver’s tendencies to break the law increased as well. None of the cars, none of the cars in our least expensive car category ________ the law. Close to 50 percent of the cars in our most expensive vehicle category broke the law. We’ve run other studies finding that wealthier individuals are more likely to lie ________ negotiations, to endorse unethical behavior ________ work like stealing cash from the cash register, taking bribes, lying ________customers.


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