Study reveals the obvious: The rich are different from you and me, especially behind the wheel

bmw at crosswalk
© bmw at crosswalk, from study

I often find that when the bike lake is blocked, it is a fancy car, most likely a Mercedes or a BMW or an Escalade. Now a study confirms what everybody always knew: many rich people have a sense of entitlement and don't think the rules apply to them. Benjamin Preston of the New York Times points to a study by Paul K. Piff of The university of California, Berkeley that confirms it. The study, Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior, used a series of experiments to quantify how "upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower class individuals." One of them involved how they drive, looking at how they dealt with four way stops (fancy cars were more likely to cut off other drivers) and whether they stopped at pedestrian crosswalks.

In study 2, we tested whether upper-class drivers are more likely to cut off pedestrians at a crosswalk. An observer positioned him or herself out of plain sight at a marked crosswalk, coded the status of a vehicle, and recorded whether the driver cut off a pedestrian (a confederate of the study) attempting to cross the intersection.

Cutting off a pedestrian violates California Vehicle Code. In this study, 34.9% of drivers failed to yield to the pedestrian. A binary logistic regression with time of day, driver’s perceived age and sex, and confederate sex entered as covariates indicated that upperclass drivers were significantly more likely to drive through the crosswalk without yielding to the waiting pedestrian.

© Paul Piff

Piff tells the New York Times:

You see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars, In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk. They always stopped for pedestrians....One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop,” said Mr. Piff, adding, “BMW drivers were the worst.

Quelle suprise.

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | BMW | Wretched Excess

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