What can poor people do

Sometimes the finest people wait in the darkest corners. This is what happens, for example, if you dare to step into a gloomy-looking corner bar. Often people sit, stand and drink in front of the counter who have little of their own, but who treat strangers with an almost shameful cordiality. And while the newcomer is still struggling with his self-consciousness, one of the regulars has already given him one. In contrast, highly polished bars look like mental isolation systems: Most of the guests there look nice, but look coldly through the other visitors as if they weren't there.

Psychologists can confirm such counter observations with experiments from their laboratories. They have shown that people of low social status often approach others with particular openness. They make eye contact more quickly, laugh more often, and in this way make it easier for others to make contact on their part. And the fact that a beer is more likely to be served in the Pilsstüberl than in the lounge also fits in with the findings of science: poor people are often more generous and also reveal greater empathy than members of privileged classes.

The socio-economic status of a person therefore not only affects material well-being, but also influences how they think, act and feel. This is shown by the psychologist Antony Manstead from Cardiff University, who im British Journal of Social Psychology has just compiled the current state of research on this topic.

Wealthy people reveal unpleasant traits in studies

Helpfulness and empathy are therefore good consequences of bad conditions: In the lower classes of the population one is simply more dependent on one another and sees oneself more as part of a collective than as an individual who should somehow realize itself. And those who are particularly dependent on others benefit greatly from being able to read the feelings and emotional states of their fellow destinies, writes Manstead.

Wealthy people, on the other hand, often reveal unpleasant traits in studies. For example, they often only help others in need if this is done publicly. In this way, they can present themselves as benefactors, feel proud of themselves and, for example, distinguish themselves as good people at the charity gala. The less privileged, on the other hand, are more likely to offer support when no one else notices - as if willingness to help were taken for granted.

However, these are no reasons to romanticize poverty and the simple life now. The high stress level of a life in precarious circumstances also arouses rejection: At the lower end of society, prejudices against minorities are often particularly pronounced.

This is because, according to Manstead, the low-skilled have to compete directly with immigrants from poor countries for jobs. However, it is likely that these prejudices will be dispelled more easily - if you meet at the counter and notice that you are preoccupied with the same needs and worries.