Institute for Wealthibility and Wealth Psychology
Director: Prof. Dr. Thomas Druyen
About Our Work
The goal of the Institute for Wealthibility and Wealth Psychology is to understand and compare the socio-cultural, psychological and ethical qualities of the segment of the population that possesses extreme wealth.
Our research framework involves three distinct, yet interwoven, lines of inquiry:
1. Classification and Qualitative Analysis
We aim to produce an in-depth, qualitative and quantitative description of this segment of society: including demographics, socio-economic background, the manner in which their wealth was attained, psychological traits, mental health, value systems, lifestyle, political and religious beliefs, attitudes towards such issues as education, family and aging, and general world view. While a great deal of descriptive research has been conducted both on the general population and the underprivileged sectors of society, a significant study of this type has not hitherto been conducted on the segment of population that possesses extreme wealth.
We are seeking to explore the self-perception of individuals in this segment of the population. How do they perceive themselves, the social category they belong to, and their general situation in life? How do they view themselves in relation to others? To what factors do they attribute their status in society? Do they consider themselves to be inherently the same as, or inherently different from the rest of the world? Is there a sense of identity with other persons of extreme wealth? Are there commonly shared distinctions of subcategories that emerge on the basis of which the extremely wealthy perceive and categorise themselves? – for example old rich versus new rich, royalty versus commoners, categorizations according to industry in which the money was made, etc. If such categories do emerge, then what do these individuals think of them, and where do they place themselves on the spectrum?
3. Cross-Cultural Comparison
We are interested to compare attitudes towards social responsibility and, in particular, philanthropy among the segment of the population that possesses extreme wealth. To what extent do persons engage in philanthropic activities, and what are their reasons for their level of engagement? What do they view as the purpose of philanthropic activity? What do they perceive to be its benefits, both to themselves and to its recipients? Do they perceive social responsibility as a necessary aspect of having extreme wealth? Do they feel social pressure to engage in philanthropic activities, either from their own social group, or from the rest of the world? Do they view philanthropy as a way of connecting to the world, or, on the contrary, as a way of accentuating their separateness, distinctness or superiority?
In pursuing these three sets of questions, we hope to gain insight into this previously neglected set of issues, which we feel to be crucial to the understanding of how our society functions. The segment of the population that possesses extreme wealth quite literally owns most of the world that we live in. By virtue of this fact, and the social standing that goes along with it, these persons also have a great deal of social and political influence – not only in the long run, but on an everyday basis, over the daily lives of other persons in society. For this reason, to develop a model that describes, categorises and explains their behaviors and actions, seems like an imperative goal of social research.