These findings suggest an explanation for why, once Americans attain an annual income of $75,000, more money doesn’t seem to bring more happiness: Beyond that point, perhaps our elevated sense of status brings with it the harmful social and emotional effects that undercut the joys of more money.

Sure enough, one recent study found that people who were wealthier, or were just temporarily made to feel wealthier, were worse at savoring everyday pleasures, a key to happiness, according to prior research.

The research linking wealth and empathy certainly suggests one reason why Romney has seemed to demonstrate callousness and trouble connecting with voters on the campaign trail, with his comments about the 47% being just the latest example. In light of this research, the video of Romney carries another troubling implication: that inequality may be self-perpetuating, making the rich less likely to feel compassion for the poor, thereby increasing the economic gap between them.