Imagine starting a rigged game of Monopoly where a rich player and a poor player is assigned by a coin flip. If you won the coin flip, you would get two dice instead of one to move around the board faster and twice the amount of money every time you passed Go.

Well, that is what Paul Piff did.

It turns out, the rich players began to demonstrate rude behaviors by making exaggerated moves like banging their pieces louder on the board. They would excessively celebrate. They showed signs of greed by taking extra Pretzels from the bowl. And when they got stuck, they began to say things like, “I’ll just buy my way out.”

The astounding thing and I’m not making this up, is when Piff asked about their experience of the game, the rich players would boast about their brilliant moves and tactics of how they played while completely ignoring the fact that a simple coin flip at the beginning gave them a clear advantage.  

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple.

It’s not just with Monopoly.

The rich drive differently than the poor. Those who drive fancier cars are less considerate of pedestrians and cut other drivers off more frequently.

So, here’s a question, is wealth simply a coin flip? Is it a matter of zip code, race, gender, the family you are born into?

If so, then…

Why are the rich “more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals, exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work than were lower-class individuals.”

Or have we built a system that encourages this behavior?

Here’s the thing, the brain works overtime to build a narrative, a story, that will protect us.

We often think that something happens and then we form a system around that to explain it. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Something happens and then we cherry-pick the information to reinforce the system we have already built.

A map already drawn. A story already told.

This is why we are so good at tellings stories of the moves we made in a rigged game of Monopoly while ignoring clear advantages.

When faced with a choice to be grateful or inhale, we can’t help but inhale.

That is why things like prosperity theology are so prevalent in our world today. We search for stories that make us feel better—to justify our actions, not change them.

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