Money Does Change Us: Lottery Wins Sway our Politics and our Values

Money does change us. It makes us more right wing and less concerned with equality, according to research by Warwick University. 

By studying the voting behaviour of lottery winners, researchers found that after a sudden win, winners are more likely to switch political support for a right-wing political party, as well as become less "egalitarian" - concerned with the principles of equal rights and opportunities for all. 

To study the link between increased wealth and changes to political tendencies, researchers studied data on thousands of people who had received lottery wins of up to £200,000 each.  

The authors say that the research - the first of its kind - has wide implications for how democracy works. Professor Oswald, leading researcher, said:

"In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people’s protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates." 

Money changes us and makes our ethics "flexible." Coauthor, Nick Powdthavee said: "We are not sure exactly what goes on inside people’s brains but it seems that having money causes people to favour conservative right-wing ideas. Humans are creatures of flexible ethics." 

Despite the idea that political ideas are "inherited" from connections such as families and communties, the real motivation behind people's politics are still unknown.

He adds: "The causes of people’s political attitudes are largely unknown. One possibility is that individuals’ attitudes towards politics and redistribution are motivated by deeply ethical view. Our study provides empirical evidence that voting choices are made out of self-interest." 

The researchers were able to explore the longitudinal changes in political allegiance of bigger lottery winners compared to smaller lottery winners by using a nationally representative sample of lottery winners in the British Household Panel Survey.  

The effect was shown to be "sizeable." Winning just a few thousand pounds in the lottery showed to have an effect on right-wingness to be just under half the effect of completing a good standard of education (i.e. A-levels) at secondary school. 

Oddly, the "lottery winning effect" was shown to be far stronger in males than females, although the authors are not sure why. 

The study has not yet had the opportunity to analyse the affect on those individuals who win millions, but would like to.

Professor Oswald, said: "We’d certainly love to be able to track the views of the rare giant winners if any lottery company would like to work with our research team." 




Link to source: Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian: A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Wins 

Image credit with thanks to J Money of Flickr (Creative Commons License)