Skip to main content

Good rich, bad rich: Perceptions about the extremely wealthy and their sources of wealth

H. Swidan
International Journal of Business and Social Research. August 1, 2014

View Publication

Vol. 4, No. 8, pp. 44-58


We compare and contrast Americans’ perceptions of four sources of extreme wealth: Executive, Financial Trader, Entrepreneur, and Heir, and find positive perceptions of the Entrepreneur’s wealth, and negative perceptions of the Heir and the Financial Trader. Respondents read biographies of each archetype, controlling for quantity of wealth and personal attributes, recording their impressions of the character and competence of the individual and the justification of that person’s wealth.   Findings are discussed in the context of socio-cultural norms affecting our perceptions of the extremely wealthy and the sources of their wealth.