Three Fun Facts About The Super-Rich

Rich people have been in the news a lot this week (like every other week). And we've learned some new things about them. For instance, they are mean. Also, the lady-rich crave a personal touch.

In addition to the fact that they swim in giant pools of gold coins and you do not, here are some ways the rich are different from average joes:

They're stingier.

According to a study by Dr. Paul Piff and his team at Berkeley, people who saw themselves as having low "levels of education, income and occupational status" were more likely to give away money to fellow participants than were people who thought they were high-status. Also, while lower-class participants, on average, thought that 5.6% of a person's income should go to charity, richies put that figure at just 2.1%. There's hope, though — a task that was supposed to make rich people feel poorer also made them slightly more generous. They could also be "primed" with video clips to treat people more nicely. Writes The Economist, "That suggests the rich are capable of compassion, if somebody reminds them, but do not show it spontaneously."

They like plain watches.

If they're really rich, that is. Writes Robert Frank of The Wall Street Journal, "The most expensive, in-demand watches these days are solid black, ultrathin timepieces with little or no identifying brand markers. They are designed not to be noticed." That's because some rich people — Frank calls them "patricians" — like to spend gazillions of dollars on products only recognizable to other patricians. Sneaky! Frank breaks other consumers down into "parvenus" (show-offs who like Louis Vuitton), "poseurs" (status-hungry plebes who like fake Louis Vuitton), and "proletarians" (lumpen peasants who tell time based on whether there is a potato famine yet).

Rich guys like business, rich ladies like empathy.

Also according to the Journal, the male rich "see[s] the wealth-adviser relationship strictly through a business lens" (this is in contrast to poor people, who do not see the wealth-adviser relationship). The female of the species, meanwhile, craves "empathy, trust and customized advice." She doesn't just want to know how to make more money — that would be crass. Instead, she needs tips on how to spend her income on a five trillion dollar rhino-skin watch that looks like a Timex — because otherwise she might have to give some of it to charity.

The Rich Are Different From You And Me [Economist]
The Four Species Of Wealthy Consumers [WSJ]
What Wealthy Women Want [WSJ]