Why differences in social class lead to different judgments...

When faced with a dilemma, the choice is often between bad and bad. Studies have shown that individuals of different classes differ in their judgment of – and response to – similar dilemmas. A shift in focus between empathy and a more utilitarian position can explain these differences. Generally speaking, individuals that are upper class choose differently than individuals from all other classes when faced with difficult dilemmas. Upper class individuals consider the overall consequences and therefore choose the bad that is least bad for the general picture. Lower class individuals tend to show more empathy to what is close by, which results in making different choices (Piff & Willer, 2012). Upper class individuals more often choose to inflict or allow harm to one person to create more gain (or less loss) for more persons, whereas lower class individuals more often choose to save one person from major harm, even if this leads to more harm to a larger group of people. Adaptation to the situation Given the (relatively) more threatening environments they live in and their relative lack of material resources, lower-class individuals engage in a variety of adaptive social-cognitive processes (knowledge and strategies people develop to handle social situations). As part of this process, lower-class individuals respond adaptively to threats in their environments by building supportive, interdependent networks that they can draw on to confront threats when they arise (Piff & Willer, 2012). In other words, they rely on their neighbors, friends and family when they need help to kick your ass – or mine. But where do these differences come from? Do upper class individuals lack empathy? Do the lower-class individuals lack sight on the ‘bigger picture’? Probably both are true. Researchers have found that the...

Covey #5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood...

There is a common tendency to try and fix things with ‘good’ advice. Things are not your problem and yet you immediately associate the problem with your own experiences and before you know you blurt out an advice. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But how helpful is such an advice? And do you ever take it to heart? Our education has taught us how to read, write and speak. But who was ever educated in listening? I was, when I studied psychology, but that might be considered a bit late. The people around me had already suffered twenty years of me not listening to them properly! Psychology only taught me techniques; it did not teach me how I could really hear the other person. Covey explicitly puts a focus on listening by heart, which goes further than techniques can take you. Another person – your lover, employee or someone you just met – will notice that you are sincerely interested if he or she experiences that you are listening honestly. Only by listening sincerely will you notice the true feelings and ideas of your friend or colleague. And only this will help you give him or her the best possible advice. Mistaking talking for listening Do you ever wonder if you are listening sincerely? When you often give one of the following replies when talking to someone, you are probably doing anything but listening: “I went through the very same thing. Let me tell you about my experience.” “Oh, I know exactly how you feel.” How can you understand the other with a few words and reply with an entire story? Simple: you can’t! Most times, you try to understand someone else by relating his story to your own experiences....