Monday, June 1, 2015

Holding cynical beliefs may be costly

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology is running an article, which presents the findings of research establishing an association between cynicism and individual economic success. We know other research has associated cynicism with detrimental outcomes across a wide range of spheres of life, including physical health, psychological well being and marital adjustment.

The research outlines a series of studies using survey data from the United States and Europe. The first two studies looked at cynicism in national surveys of Americans and income level at a later date. In both studies, a high level of cynicism was associated with lower income.

Another study in Germany found that after nine years people with low levels of cynicism earned on average $300 per month more than their more cynical counterparts.

The final study examined the potential universality of these findings, looking at survey data from 41 countries to see if societal factors could play a role. The negative association between cynicism and lower income was strongest in countries with higher levels of altruistic behavior, lower homicide rates and lower levels of overall societal cynicism.

Interestingly, there are some countries where cynicism might be justified or even somewhat functional. In these countries, cynical individuals do not necessarily earn less than their less cynical compatriots. It’s possible that cynical individuals are less likely to trust others and therefore forgo cooperation opportunities.

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