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How to tell if someone is wealthy or not

February 14, 2009

Have you ever noticed how the wealthy and non-wealthy use different codes to communicate?

I do and I suspect some of it may not even be conscious.

Take your typical wedding cocktail scenario. See how the wealthy often appear aloof or smug. They don’t speak very much if they don’t know you. If they happen to be stuck at the same table as you, see how they fidget with their wine glasses and hors d’euvre, how impolitely restless they seem to be, and how they occasionally cut into the conversation with something completely unrelated. You can tell them your name a few times and they still can’t remember it.

The not-so-wealthy guy’s characteristics is the opposite. He will hang on to every word and gesture of whomever he speaks to, laugh out loud at seriously lame jokes, and be animated throughout the conversation.

Its easy to spot who’s who if you have a keen eye.

What I always thought was my overly active imagination is now vindicated by this study done by the University of California. Quote:

They found that students whose parents were from higher socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds engaged in more of what he called “impolite” behaviors, such as grooming, doodling and fidgeting. Lower SES students showed more “I’m interested” gestures, including laughter and raising of the eyebrows

The higher SES students fidgeted with nearby objects for an average of two seconds, while those from lower SES backgrounds almost never fidgeted during the 60-second clips. Upper SES students also groomed themselves for short stints while lower SES students didn’t. Rather, the lower SES students nodded their heads, laughed and raised their eyebrows an average of one to two seconds more than their upper SES counterparts.

The study thinks this behavior has a basis in our animalistic tendencies. Its worth a read.

Now that they’ve got that sorted out, how about cracking the next code: how to pick out the new emerging class, wealthy people who’s about to go bust in the meltdown. 🙂

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2009 1:42 pm

    Eh…guess i’m sometimes a poor guy and sometimes not, depending on my mood. LOL. Also depending on who I’m dealing with. =_=

    Yeah, I’m usually poorer at the end of the month. :mrgreen:

  2. LC Teh permalink
    February 17, 2009 11:20 am

    Guess I don’t need to learn this skill. Maybe I don’t have much of a social life and I don’t have to know who’s who. But I’ve known rich guys who brag about how they ‘cleverly’ pinch bottles of eu de cologne from airplane toilets and ash trays from hotel rooms. On the other hand I’ve also had long chats while hiking with ordinary ‘uncles’, one of whom turned out to own hectares of oil palm.

    Its not just between the haves and have-nots. You can see it between juniors and seniors at work, between the experienced and inexperienced. It looks like an inclination of species to dominate the group they perceive as weak, something so subtle that even the dominator may not be aware of it.

  3. LC Teh permalink
    February 18, 2009 8:52 am

    Aaah, that age old ‘pecking order’… In lower levels of society it’s more in physical form. In higher levels it’s mental…

    Yes, seems like it. I guess “struggle for survival” is more than just a metaphor because any time any place, there’s always someone who’s richer, older and more experienced than we are waiting to put us in our place.

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