De gebroken ladder: De invloed van ongelijkheid op ons denken en leven


Financiële onzekerheid leidt tot irrationeel en roekeloos gedrag

Het verhaal van ongelijkheid is die van de sociale ladder. Wij kijken naar de mensen om ons heen om onze welvaart te bepalen. Een arme Amerikaan zou in India rijk zijn met zijn ijskast en smartphone, maar hij ervaart toch echte armoede. En op het moment dat iemand zich arm voelt, is wetenschappelijk aangetoond dat ze beslissingen op de korte termijn – die vaak op de lange termijn verkeerd zijn – gaan nemen.

Keith Payne onderzoekt hoe ongelijkheid binnen onze eigen sociale omgeving ons financieel verdeelt. Maar ook welke ingrijpende gevolgen het heeft op de manier waarop we denken, hoe we reageren op stress, hoe onze immuunsystemen functioneren en hoe we morele ideeën, zoals rechtvaardigheid en eerlijkheid, bekijken. Ongelijkheid creëert sociale problemen, zoals een lagere gemiddelde levensverwachting, ernstige gezondheidsproblemen, psychische aandoeningen en criminaliteit.

De gebroken ladder onderzoekt alle fysieke, psychologische en morele effecten van ongelijkheid en geeft zo een helder, maar ook verontrustend beeld over onze wereld in deze tijd.

Keith Payne doceert psychologie aan de Universiteit van North Carolina. Hij publiceerde meer dan zeventig artikelen en hoofdstukken over ongelijkheid en discriminatie. Zijn werk is onder andere gepubliceerd in The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American en Psychology Today.

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Published on
Jun 8, 2017
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Psychology / Social Psychology
Social Science / Sociology / General
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A timely examination by a leading scientist of the physical, psychological, and moral effects of inequality.
Today’s inequality is on a scale that none of us has seen in our lifetimes, yet this disparity between rich and poor has ramifications that extend far beyond mere financial means. In The Broken Ladder psychologist Keith Payne examines how inequality divides us not just economically, but has profound consequences for how we think, how our cardiovascular systems respond to stress, how our immune systems function, and how we view moral ideas like justice and fairness. Experiments in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics have not only revealed important new insights on how inequality changes people in predictable ways, but have provided a corrective to our flawed way of viewing poverty as the result of individual character failings. Among modern, developed societies, economic inequality is not primarily about money, but rather about relative status: where we stand in relation to other people. Regardless of their average income, countries or states with greater levels of income inequality have much higher rates of all the social problems we associate with poverty, including lower average life expectancies, serious health issues, mental illness, and crime.
The Broken Ladder explores such issues as why women in poor societies often have more children, and have them younger; why there is little trust among the working class that investing for the future will pay off; why people’s perception of their relative social status affects their political beliefs, and why growing inequality leads to greater political divisions; how poverty raises stress levels in the same way as a physical threat; inequality in the workplace, and how it affects performance; why unequal societies become more religious; and finally offers measures people can take to lessen the harm done by inequality in their own lives and the lives of their children.
My Mother, Doreen Hilda Payne (nee Jardine) executed much of this research, tracing our forebears history back to the 1800s and possibly the very late 1700s.

This may not seem a long time ago but when you remember that in those early times, people rode around on horseback; motor vehicles and aeroplanes were 100 years away from being invented. The Duke of Wellington was defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 and in 1860 the American Civil War was yet to happen; while space travel was only an imaginative comic book dream. This tells you how long ago 1800 was, let alone the 1700s.

The purpose of this document is to create an ongoing history of this immediate family and those involved, so that our Children and our Childrens Children will know where they came from and the histories and interests of these family members. Also the times in which they lived; indeed how much life and lifes struggles have changed over the years.

It is my hope that our (Doreen and Keith Payne) Children, Holly and James and their Children, Jessica and Isabella by Holly and Sophie Olivia by James and Vicky will add their story to this historical document and pass it onto their Children.

Should each subsequent generation add their story, this document will become historical in its own right.

When I realised all the effort my Mother had put into locating her ancestors as far back as she had and realised exactly what she had managed to achieve, I believed it would be a great tragedy if all her endeavours were lost; herewith the book.

Not many children know beyond their immediate grandparents so what an incredible history this will be if it is maintained down the years, recording all the changes in the way we live and additions to our family.

Bless you Mother.

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