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Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

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Chapter 20

Categorizing People: Financiers versus Artists and Other Idealists

One of our feelings about economic inequality is that high incomes in our society seem often to reward selfishness and narrow-mindedness rather than idealism and humanity. People naturally categorize other people, and we place them into groupings that take on exaggerated significance in our imaginations. We tend to think that those in careers other than our own are fundamentally different kinds of people. Personality and character differences are indeed somewhat associated with occupations. But this overly strong tendency to categorize people is related to what psychologists have dubbed “the fundamental attribution error.”1 It is a known fact that we tend to attribute ...

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