Rich People More Likely to Ignore You on Street

Study says the lower classes hold little 'motivational relevance' for the wealthy
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2016 10:28 AM CDT
Rich People More Likely to Ignore You on Street
It might take a Marilyn Monroe sculpture to attract the eye of a rich person.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

No, you're not imagining it. Rich people really aren't interested in you. A new study found the wealthy spend less time looking at other people, probably because the lower classes hold less "motivational relevance" for them, meaning the hoi polloi aren't worthy of their attention, Live Science reports. The study used Google Glass to track the gaze of 61 New Yorkers who were told to look at whatever caught their attention on the street. Glass' video camera near the right eye recorded the findings. Writing in the journal Psychological Science, researchers at New York University found a correlation between social class and interest in others. While class did not account for the number of times a participant looked at others, the upper classes spent less time looking at others compared with those in lower classes. The "findings make a compelling case that social classes differ in their judgments of other people's significance," the researchers wrote, per Live Science.

If this sounds difficult to measure, it is. Google Glass can register the turn of a head but not where the eyes are tracking. So scientists followed up in the lab with an eye-tracking device that analyzed optical movements timed to New York City street scenes. They found the same result. To determine if participants were aware of their behavior, they showed computer images to 400 people and determined that those in the higher classes took longer to notice when a face changed. "This finding suggests that social class, like other forms of culture… can shape human cognitive functioning at a deep level," they said. (Rich and poor people have different toxins in their bodies.)

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