What does inequality do to our bodies and minds? A social psychologist and an epidemiologist discuss



What do a disease-fighting epidemiologist (retired) and an up-and-coming social psychologist have in common? They’re both fascinated by the unseen social problems hidden behind the word “inequality.”  Beyond the lack of access to money and power — what does inequality do to us as human beings?

Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson (TED Talk: How economic inequality harms societies) spent his career studying chronic health problems — with the growing realization that most health issues are caused, or worsened, by poverty and inequality. This awareness led him to co-found the Equality Trust and co-write the book The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone). Meanwhile, social psychologist Paul Piff (TED Talk: Does money make you mean?) studies the psychological effects of wealth — and what happens when you, say, rig a Monopoly game.

In this freewheeling conversation, Wilkinson and Piff find their common ground — and go from there. A lightly edited version of their conversation follows:

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