We’ve all heard the old saw that money is the root of all evil, but a new study from the Glasgow Institute has produced a surprising result. People with money are not only not evil but tend to be of better character, along with more handsome and more moral.

“We were as surprised as anyone,” said David Harris, a researcher at the institute. “We’ve all seen the stereotypes of unscrupulous tycoons or rich men with top hats who crush the poor under their boot heel. But the truth, as it turns out, is far different.”

The Institute identified more than 300 men and women with a net worth of more than ten million dollars, and asked them twenty questions, from “Are moral problems easy to solve?” “Do you have a reliable system for valuing others?’ to “Would you be willing to donate a large sum of money to the Glasgow Institute?” 

They then added up the “yes” answers. The greatest number of affirmative responses earned the highest score. 


“This kind of questionnaire is called the Harris survey,” said Harris. “Yes, it is named after me. I devised it after I grew tired of more complex analytical surveys that turned up equivocal results. This is simple: twenty questions, and add up the yes answers.”

After administering the survey, the Institute distributed a separate Harris survey to 300 randomly selected people with less than $50,000 to their names. Here, the questions included “Can you remember the first time you were conscious of making a correct moral choice?” “Did you inherit a moral framework from your parents?” and “Would you be willing to donate a large sum of money to the Glasgow Institute?” Again, the yes answers were tallied. 

“Many of these poorer people — or should I say less financially fortunate— scored fairly well, but on average they were a full point behind the wealthy,” said Harris. “And so the best people were also the most successful. I had the opportunity to tell them so in a series of meetings, and they were surprisingly appreciative. I think that they get a bad reputation. Just because a person has a giant mansion, or travels all across the globe, that doesn’t mean that they’re evil. Look at this watch I recently started to wear. It’s a nice watch. Does it make me a bad person?”


The survey may well change society’s opinion of the rich. It certainly has changed Harris’s. “The thought struck me this morning as I came to work in my new Mercedes,” he said. “It’s possible, maybe more than possible, that we’ve given the rich an unfair shake in this society.”

Harris plans to administer similar surveys in Seychelles, St. Bart’s, and Ibiza over the coming months, and then to present the results of his research at a conference in Musha Cay in the Bahamas.

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