Bad News: Greed Beats Generosity

In 5 experiments that involved dividing up money and work, people who were the recipients of acts of generosity did not pay it forward any more than people who had not received a generous act. Meaning – receiving generosity did not result in being generous to others. That’s bad enough. However, people who were treated badly – who were victims of a greedy act – did pay it forward and behaved

in a greedy manner toward someone else.steps and feet on ice

Aww, this is certainly not the type of results we hope for.  Whether we are teachers, supervisors, or parents, we hope that we can role model good values – this finding is depressing.  I wonder if the negative spiral is encouraged by the terrible feeling of being victimized so that frustration lends itself to beating up someone else – the old pecking order theory.  But why doesn”t generosity encourage strong enough feelings in the recipient to push good works along? Any thoughts?  Maybe it was just the folks in North Carolina, where the study took place – just kidding.  I wonder if the subjects were students; perhaps the results would be different is people were a bit older and feeling less oppressed generally.

J.  Experimental Psychology, online Dec. 17

Want to be generous? Buy my book, Object of Obsession

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