Do you know why rich people pay less attention to us?

New research suggests that people from higher social classes really pay less attention to other people they encounter on the streets.

Researchers draw that conclusion on the basis of an experiment. They provided 61 pedestrians in New York with Google Glasses, supposedly to test the device. The test subjects were walking while their glasses stored everything they were looking at. The participants also completed a survey that determined which social class they belonged to. For example, the test subjects had to indicate whether they belonged to the poor, the working class, the middle class or the upper class.


So why do rich people pay less attention to us?

The research shows that people’s social class influences how long they look at other people. Subjects who considered themselves part of the upper class spent less time looking at other people than those who considered themselves part of a lower social class. The researchers set up two more experiments on this. This time with the more accurate eye-tracking technology. It yielded the same results: social class had no influence on how often people looked at others, but it did have an influence on how long they looked at others.

Closeup Photo of Woman With Brown Coat and Gray Top

Spontaneous processes

However, the research suggests that the rich people of the earth can do little about this. The difference between the attention that people from the higher and lower classes pay to others is the result of ‘spontaneous cognitive processes’. Scientists draw that conclusion on the basis of an experiment. During this experiment, people looked at a screen that showed a picture with a face and five objects. This picture disappeared and made way for a picture that either looked the same or was slightly different. The subjects had to indicate whether the picture was identical to the first picture or not. The research shows that people from the upper classes needed more time than people from the lower classes to notice that the face on the picture had changed. However, both classes took just as long to notice a change in the objects. It indicates that faces simply grab the attention of people from a lower social class more easily.

“Our study contributes to the growing knowledge about the influence of the social class on psychological functioning. The more we know about the influences that differences in social class have, the better we can tackle the widespread social problems.”

researcher Pia Dietze.

The researchers are continuing their studies. They will carry out the experiments in other countries as well. Let’s hope they don’t find out my reasons as to why rich people don’t pay attention to us.

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