Social-psychologist Paul Piff who focuses most of his research on social hierarchies and how these impact our lives and society in general, has presented very interesting findings through a study on the game of Monopoly.
In his TED Talk held at TEDxMarin, Piff discusses a recent series of behavioral experiments centered on the game of Monopoly. These experiments involved multiple “rigged” games of monopoly in which one randomly-chosen player in a randomly selected group was given certain advantages…such as: twice the money, greater ability to move around the board (more than two dice!), and more access to resources (higher bonuses for passing ‘go’).
According to Piff, the goal here was to study how “a privileged player in a rigged game behaves”. After just fifteen minutes of play for each game, the researchers began noticing “dramatic” behavioral changes in the advantaged players…observed changes ranged from louder, more forceful movement of their game piece to seemingly trivial things like eating more pretzels.
Over all, the most consistent behavioral change observed is one that may not come as a great surprise to those of us with more worldly experience…manners, or rather, the lack thereof…
In one humorous example, one of the advantaged players, after successfully winning the game, was heard explaining what he had done, strategically, to succeed and win. This example speaks to “how we make sense of advantage”, says Piff.
According to Piff, the dramatic changes observed in these Monopoly experiments corroborated well with other research he and colleagues had conducted on wealth and what’s known as prosociality (our tendency to cooperate with others and generally concern ourselves with others’ well-being). These previous studies sought to answer a basic question: of two groups — rich and poor — who is more likely to help a stranger?