Does Knowing Someone’s Financial Situation Affect How We Think of Them

thethinker

Sometimes I think we allow our knowledge or, in some cases, our perception of others financial situation affect how we deal and interact with them. I am not a psychologist so I can’t say that it is just the way we inherently deal with people but to me it is sad that we allow ourselves to judge someone based on how they interact with money. In some cases it may be helpful to try to determine how someone will act based on their past interactions with money but I don’t think it is our place to judge them.

Think about your next door neighbor for a minute, now pretend that you found out he/she was a multimillionaire. would that affect how you interact with them? You are probably thinking that it wouldn’t change anything. I am willing to bet, however, that you would be less likely to pick up the tab and more offended if the neighbor failed to chip in on a neighborhood project. This doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person but it just goes to show how easily something this little can affect how we interact with people.

This goes the other way as well. If you found out or believe that you neighbor or relative is struggling to make ends meet is going to affect how you perceive every action they make. The problem here is that in most cases we pass judgment on someone without knowing the entire story. If you hear your neighbor is filing bankruptcy and you see them making large purchases you initially think something bad, at least I do. Why are they making "obviously" unneeded purchases when they have these bigger problems.

The fact of the matter is that we can never fully know, nor should we concern ourselves with, the financial situation of our friends, relatives, and neighbors.  We have formed the relationships with these people for who they are, not what they have.  If you start passing judgment or allowing your perceptions of people to influence your actions you could be setting yourself up for confrontations that don’t need to happen. Bad things can happen to good people and good things can happen to bad people. The money someone has or doesn’t have doesn’t define who they are and we should never allow ourselves to judge someone on their economic status.

Photo: Brian Hillegas

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bible Money Matters July 20, 2009 at 10:08 am

I would agree with the statement that knowing someone’s financial situation changes how we think of them. Whether it’s right or now, when we hear that they are well off – or that they are in financial trouble we automatically make assumptions about them, their behavior, etc. Maybe a good reminder to be careful about the assumptions you make.

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2 fwisp July 20, 2009 at 11:20 am

I would say ‘yes’, absolutely. I have seen this so many times, and as we know money is the moving foundation of any society hence one’s financial situation can definitely influence how their peers see that person.

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3 B Simple July 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Yes, knowing someone financial situation does effect how you view them. Many times I want to know how they got into the situation their in positive or negative. If they are millionaire how did they make there money. If financial troubles what caused it. Nice article.

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4 TheDebtHawk.com July 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

We definitely make assumptions about people based on their financial situation. While this is not necessarily the best thing to do, I definitely think that it is logical.

If you see that someone is undisciplined with money, you can probably accurately assume that they are undisciplined in other areas of their lives.

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5 Green Panda July 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I agree that knowing someone financial situation does effect to some degree how you view people. I love to learn from others. I’ve made some very stupid mistakes, so hopefully I’m more sympathetic with others who made mistakes too.

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6 Connie July 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm

My sister and brother-in-law are quite wealthy (I would imagine multi-millionaire’s). There are 7 siblings and if you looked from the outside, we all still fight like cats and dogs to get the check. We all still give her our kids hand-me-downs if the sizes work. We all still bring enough food to the cottage to feed an army.

BUT… we are more reassured that if my mom ran out of money and couldn’t stay at a nice nursing home, we could afford to keep her where she is, just because of my sister’s wealth.

We also ask her hubby lots of financial type questions. Just like we ask one of my sisters Accountant type questions and they ask me and hubby technical type questions.

So I can honestly say that I don’t treat people any differently when they have money. However I do have trouble when people have screwed up priorities for their money: Vacay before housing their kids and stupid stuff like that.

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7 Viviana July 24, 2009 at 5:26 am

I agree with The Debt Hawk, if someone has a messy financial due to sloppiness as in not paying bills on time etc, they will probably be sloppy in other areas of their life.

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8 Rob Bennett July 24, 2009 at 10:53 am

Your point is a good one and an important one.

Still, I don’t think it is possible not to form any judgment at all.

There are many areas in life where we come to judgments without having access to all the information.

I think the idea should be to be careful to not develop too much confidence in any tentative judgments one forms. You can say to yourself “it sort of looks like x is so, but perhaps I am wrong about this” and remain open to moderating the judgment as you become exposed to new information inputs.

Rob

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