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Attention Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) Shoppers: Everyone Hates You

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Organic food may not be better for you, but its fans feel (and act) superior.

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Indeed, Hummer owners "often believe they represent a bastion again anti-American discourses evoked by their critics."

According to Luedicke, Thompson, and Giesler, "Our analysis of the underlying American identity discourses revealed that being under siege by (moral) critics is an historically established feature of being an American. The moralistic critique of their consumption choices readily inspired Hummer owners to adopt the role of the moral protagonist who defends American national ideals."

The Privileged Just Can't Help It?

Alas, a March 2012 study, "Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior," suggests our purchasing power might have as much to do with bad behavior as our purchases themselves.

To wit:
We reason that increased resources and independence from others cause people to prioritize self-interest over others' welfare and perceive greed as positive and beneficial, which in turn gives rise to increased unethical behavior. We predict that, given their abundant resources and increased independence, upper-class individuals should demonstrate greater unethical behavior and that one important reason for this tendency is that upper-class individuals hold more favorable attitudes toward greed.
In the words of another researcher, co-author Stephane Cote, associate professor of organizational behavior and psychology at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, "We found a trend that upper-class individuals -- people that have the most money, the most income, the best education and the most prestigious job -- have a tendency to engage in less ethical behavior."

"This doesn't mean that every rich person will behave less ethically than any less-rich person... But we found a tendency," Cote told The Canadian Press. "So if you look across people in a variety of settings, the higher-class people tend to engage in more unethical behavior."

Pass the arugula.

Follow Justin Rohrlich on Twitter: @chickenalaking
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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