Do the super-rich actually deserve the billions they own -- or were they just lucky people who justify their massive wealth by claiming it was the result of personal virtue?
Writing in Psychology Today, psychologist Veronika Tait explains why the super-rich believe that they are personally entitled to hoard all their money, while at the same time dismissing people who don't have as much money as simply lazy.
"Evidence suggests that simply having wealth, whether earned or by luck, increases one's justification for it," she writes. "Also known as the Just-World Fallacy, those who are on top of the social ladder, that is, those with money, power, and influence, believe the world is just."
In other words, many rich people believe that if their wealth was justly gained, then poor people similar deserve the poverty they've attained.
"Those who believe the world is just, that is, believe you get what you work for, are more likely to justify inequality and victim-blame," she writes. "If those who are wealthy are automatically seen as good, it is assumed that the poor must have done something to deserve their misfortune."
Tait then goes on to cite studies showing that growing up poor takes a significant psychological toll on children that is very difficult to overcome.
"Blaming the poor for their circumstances disregards the physical, psychological, and neurological effects of poverty," she writes. "Poverty has the largest effects on people’s later wellbeing if they were in poverty between 0 and 2 years of age, a time before children can even make decisions for themselves. Brain scans from children in low- and high-income families show striking differences in areas involved in memory, language processing, decision-making, and self-control."