Being Good at Monopoly Makes You an Asshole

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and I’ve found myself seated around a table of my closest friends, heavily entrenched in a game of Monopoly: The Mega Edition. It’s essentially what amounts to be a (mercifully) expedited version of the classic game.

This particular game of Monopoly I’m being subjected to cruel japes & mockery – “Here’s $25 for Reading Railroad, shove it up your ass.” But other trips around the board have been friendlier.

Some games my fortune was entirely reversed. It was me riding high on Boardwalk and sniveling at the garbage people who couldn’t afford a one-night stay. It was me spitefully throwing $8 in single Monopoly bills at the poorest player, laughing as they scooped it up from the table.

My worthless empire has withered into nothingness. I resign to the pool, alone, amidst the laughter of my play money rich friends.

And while this more modern variation of the game has its notable differences, I discover one element remains the same – winning at Monopoly makes you an asshole. But why?


Turns out there’s actually psychology behind this. One research article published in 2012 suggests the money-empathy gap is entirely real – the more money or success one person has instinctively makes them less humane. Who would have thought that a person’s financial management skills would factor into the psychology of a board game?

And how did researchers arrive to this conclusion? By testing participants using the classic game of Monopoly – only this version was rigged.

These excerpts are taken from a New York Magazine article,

One of the players, a brown-haired guy in a striped T-shirt, has been made “rich.” He got $2,000 from the Monopoly bank at the start of the game and receives $200 each time he passes Go. The second player, a chubby young man in glasses, is comparatively impoverished. He was given $1,000 at the start and collects $100 for passing Go. T-Shirt can roll two dice, but Glasses can only roll one, limiting how fast he can advance.

It starts out innocently enough, I suppose. But then things really get moving,

T-Shirt isn’t just winning; he’s crushing Glasses. Initially, he reacted to the inequality between him and his opponent with a series of smirks, an acknowledgment, perhaps, of the inherent awkwardness of the situation. “Hey,” his expression seemed to say, “this is weird and unfair, but whatever.”

And that’s when full blown Trump syndrome takes over completely,

… whatever discomfort he feels seems to dissipate. He’s a skinny kid, but he balloons in size, spreading his limbs toward the far ends of the table. He smacks his playing piece (in the experiment, the wealthy player gets the Rolls-Royce) as he makes the circuit—smack, smack, smack—­ending his turns with a board-shuddering bang! Four minutes in, he picks up Glasses’s piece, the little elf shoe, and moves it for him. As the game nears its finish, T-Shirt moves his Rolls faster. The taunting is over now: He’s all efficiency. He refuses to meet Glasses’s gaze. His expression is stone cold as he takes the loser’s cash.

I don’t know why I was surprised to learn there’s a reason some people flat out refuse to play Monopoly. Some people just hate to see their friends and family become The Wolf of Wall Street.

the wolf of wall street

It’s easy to see how this money-empathy gap applies to life outside Monopoly — but this article isn’t really about class issues. I’m not really concerned with any of that.

I’m really just looking for an apology from my friend who made his racecar perform a lewd act on my dog after I lost all my money. It’s a tragic metaphor for life.