Thursday, 20 December 2012

Greed more common than generosity

Greed is more likely to be “paid forward” than generosity.

In an experiment, participants were given four tasks – two easy and fun, and two boring and difficult.
It was found that when someone was a victim of greed (i.e. they were assigned the negative tasks) they were more likely to assign negative tasks to the next person they could, rather than splitting the tasks equally.

In five experiments involving money or work, participants who received an act of generosity didn't pay generosity forward any more than those who had been treated equally. But participants who had been the victims of greed were more likely to pay greed forward to a future recipient, creating a negative chain reaction. Women and men showed the same levels of generosity and greed in the study. 

The results confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that greed would prevail because negative stimuli have more powerful effects on thoughts and actions than positive stimuli. Focusing on the negative may cause unhappiness, but it makes sense as an evolutionary survival skill, Gray said. "If there is a tiger nearby, you really have to take notice or you'll get eaten," he said. "If there is a beautiful sunset or delicious food, it's not a life-or-death situation." 

Read more:

Greed, not generosity, more likely to be 'paid forward'Paying it forward - a popular expression for extending generosity to others after someone has been generous to you - is a heartwarming concept, but it is less common than repaying greed with greed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.