March 7th, 2012
Psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a series of experiments to investigate ethics among social classes. In one such experiment, he observed a crosswalk at a busy intersection in the San Francisco Bay area and asked participating pedestrians to approach the crossing in such a way that would give motorists time to stop, allowing pedestrians to cross safely, in the manner outlined by California state law. Unsurprisingly, owners of new, shiny, luxury cars were the biggest jerks of all: They were three times more likely than average to continue driving through the crossing, refusing to yield for pedestrians, and four times more likely to cut off other road users. They apparently feel their money and status somehow gives them the right to exercise dishonorable behavior.
However, one-third of Prius drivers also did not yield, which ranks the Prius “among the highest ‘unethical driving’ car brands.” This sector of Prius owners perhaps feels entitled to act unethically; its members believe their choice of a low-carbon hybrid car gives them special privileges over other road users – after all, they are saving the planet, though, so are the hikers and bikers these jerks seem ready to plow down.
Jerks exist on all walks and roadways of life. Perhaps you can’t change how they behave on the street, but you can learn to deal with them at work. For some advice, click on these links: