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Woman Balks After Friend Asks Her To Join Research Project About People Who Grew Up ‘Disadvantaged’


Privilege can be a dangerous thing.

While some who grow up in wealthy, privileged atmospheres are eternally grateful for their lucky situation in life, other’s are much less humble.

There are those who look down on those who grew up poor, and never give them a moment’s notice, or take any opportunity to help them.

And then there are those who consider anyone who grew up even slightly less wealthy than they did to be “underprivileged”.

Some friends of Redditor everyyzen felt that since her upbringing wasn’t identical to theirs, she must have been disadvantaged, and thus a perfect candidate for a project of theirs.

Something the original poster (OP) refused to be a part of, as she had always felt that she had a relatively lucky childhood.

Surprised by the reaction of her friends after she decline, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**Hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for not considering myself a disadvantaged person?”

The OP shared how her friend’s request, not to mention their perception of her background and upbringing, left her confused and more than a little offended.

I’m (19 F[emale]) on a summer trip with my friends from school (19-20), and one of them asked me to be a subject in their research project about college students who grew up in disadvantaged/underprivileged environments.”

“I was confused because, I don’t think I’m disadvantaged in any way.”

“I’m from an upper-middle class family, I had a great childhood, I spent some of it at a good public school and some at a private school.”

“There was nothing missing from my environment.”

“I pointed this out, and all of them had this odd attitude shift and exchanged looks like I’m crazy or something, or I’m in denial of my disadvantaged status.”

“The one researching smiled at me and was like ‘of course’.”

“‘Lots of kids who grow up in resource-deprived areas feel that their childhood was normal since they’ve never known anything else’.”

“‘Your feelings are valid’.”

“And the others echoed similar things.”

And she was like ‘but after you come to terms with everything, you should really consider how your lack of participation in the study will affect other kids growing up in circumstances like you did’.”

“It was like all of them were simultaneously gaslighting me?”

“I don’t know where they got the idea that I was underprivileged growing up.”

“I’m not sure if it’s a regional thing because they’re all from the Northeast, and they think Midwestern people are poor?”

“Or if since they all went to boarding schools, they think I’m disadvantaged because I didn’t go to one?”

“They said ‘it can be hard having fewer resources, growing up in a household with undereducated parents, etc’.”

“They basically said that I’m failing ‘underprivileged youth’ by not talking about my ‘experiences as an underprivileged youth’.”

“I find it demeaning and insulting actually to my family, because my dad has a great job and several degrees, and my parents provided us with a great childhood.”

“We’re in the top income percentile where we live, and I find their comments to be derogatory to my parents?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

The Reddit community wholeheartedly agreed that the OP was definitely not the a**hole for declining to appear in her friend’s study.

Everyone agreed the OP had every right to be angry and offended by their perception of her, with many questioning how ethical this “study” the friend was doing was.


“Your ‘friend’ is on the low-knowledge high-confidence end of the Dunning-Kruger graph with regards to sociology.”

“You presented reasons that exclude you from the underprivileged demographic.”

“Don’t let them gaslight you.”-steadydennis

“Not only is your friend being offensively elitist by imposing this identity on you because you are in some ways not like them, they are trying to dictate how you should behave, and donate your time to their project.”

“Honestly, this approach is not just obnoxious, it’s unethical ‘research’ and their instructor should be informed.”

“I know that’s a step too far for most people to ‘tell’ on them, but as a researcher myself I’m appalled.”

“NTA by any means!”- ParsimoniousSalad


“You’re right, that is demeaning and insulting.”

“But as a researcher who has worked with human subjects, what stands out to me is the egregious lack of research ethics.”

“Who tf ‘trained’ her for this ‘research’ project?”

“I don’t think it would be going too far to find out who their advisor, or professor, if this is for a class, for this ‘research’ and contact them for a quick chat about this experience.”

“You being upper middle class, your childhood, frankly that’s not very relevant.”

“What’s most relevant is how they portrayed the issue to you, gaslit your response, and attempted to influence your participation by imposing their own perceptions of you/your life.”

“Which they are obviously not an authority on.”

“These behaviors are in no way acceptable as far as ethical research practices go.”


“In my experience, you have to take training on all this stuff, plus how to securely handle personal data, even if it’s anonymized, before you can work with human subjects.”

“This applies to survey data too!”

“Given your ages, I suspect this is for a class.”

“But in any case, such behavior should be quite discouraged and penalized, even if formal training is not required.”

“Even if she is an undergrad, her behavior demonstrates a systemic failing of both her as a student researcher and everyone in her chain of command for this project.”

“Please complain.”

“I suspect this was either intended to be a slight or an undergrad ‘research’ project for a class, not proper research.”

“In the case of the latter, it’s still worth bringing to the attention of the class lecturer or dean of the relevant department.”

“They should take this seriously, as it is a serious breach of ethics even for course-level work.”-Motor_Crow4482


“You may actually have some fun asking them what is the definition of underprivileged and ‘few resources’, and see what checkboxes you don’t check, with numbers and such.”- tatasz


“Your so-called friend is an arrogant and condescending AH, with an air of superiority.”

“Find new friends.”-  alexemalexem

“Any chance race factors into any of this?”

“Your ‘friends’ sound like idiots.”- Brainjacker


“But I think you already know that.”

“I’d be very curious what they consider disadvantaged, as in the UK right now 31% of children live in poverty, meaning their family does not have enough money to keep them fed and clothed, and would probably not benefit from someone in the upper middle class speaking for them.”

“If your family could afford housing, clothing, food, medical expenses and luxuries like toys and holidays then you were never disadvantaged, I think this is just classism and ignorance from your classmates.”-Xajemmx

“NTA but, are you Black by any chance and all these ‘friends’ just so happen to be White?”

“Legitimately wouldn’t surprise me if this is a race thing.”- Get_Your_Ruffage


“A few other people have commented on how unethical their research sounds, and how vague their inclusion criteria are.”

“So I’m going to skip over that.”

“I’m just going to add, they sound like lazy students.”

“They sound like they have to interview a certain number of people, and they really can’t be bothered to find enough participants who actually fit their inclusion criteria, so they’re going around pestering their friends and acquaintances until they have enough interviews.”- HokeyPokeyGuestList


“I grew up in the Northeast and this is definitely a thing there.”

“There’s a really elitist, pretentious mindset that if you’re not from the northeast, you’re not as well educated or financially successful.”

“It’s really bizarre, but I experienced a lot of that attitude when I told people I was moving down south for college.”

“It’s not everyone in the northeast, but there’s a disproportionate amount compared to anywhere else I’ve lived.”

“They’re being ignorant, offensive, and I would talk to a professor.”-ImpressionOk1458

“Tell them to f*ck off, cheeky snobby bastards.”

“Their study is obviously going to be skewed isn’t if if they don’t even get their subjects right.”

“They have no idea what f*ckin poverty truly is.”

“I despise people like that.”

“NTA.”- KimmyStand


“By the definition of the word, the gaslighting was already successful since you’re on here.”

“Just refuse to help the project and if possible, find new friends.”

“Also, while looking for the new friends, create a fake project/personal study and call it ‘Why being privileged blinds you from the eventual reality’.”

“If they ask what it’s about simply explain, ‘it’s a study about why privileged people are blind to the fact that despite being privileged now, we’ll all end up in the ground one day’.”

“Then ask them if they’d like to be apart of the study since they’re perfect candidates.”-Willzinator

What this so-called friend is trying to accomplish by this study is highly suspect.

Particularly seeing as the OP grew up in an environment which others would by all means consider privileged.

It seems that it would definitely be in the OP’s best interest to listen to the above members of the Reddit community, and mention this study to the applicable teacher.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.