Vindictive acts never pay, they drive friends and jobs away

March 27th, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 27 (IANS) A person with a vindictive outlook tends to drive jobs and friends away, besides holding himself back, a new study has confirmed.
We repay an invitation to dinner with a counter-invitation, reciprocate acts of kindness or help. This is known as positive reciprocity. Conversely, when we repay meanness with more acts of meanness, it is negative reciprocity.

Researchers from the Universities of Bonn in Germany and Maastricht in The Netherlands wanted to discover how these traits influence success or satisfaction with life.

They relied on data from the so-called “socio-economic panel”. This contains information gathered by the German Institute for Economic Research in its annual surveys, based on 20,000 respondents and cover a diversity of topics.

“Both positive and negative reciprocity are widespread in Germany,” declared Armin Falk, professor at Bonn University, who led the research and summarised its results.

“On the basis of these theoretical considerations it would be natural to expect that negatively reciprocal people are more likely to lose their jobs,” Falk explained.

“A supposition which coincides with our results. Consequently, negatively reciprocal people experience a significantly higher rate of unemployment.”

Researchers stumbled upon a number of interesting correlations. “Positively reciprocal people tend to perform more overtime, but only when they find the remuneration fair,” said Thomas Dohmen, professor at Maastricht University.

“As they are very sensitive to incentives, they also tend to earn more money.”

This is in stark contrast to vindictive people, for whom more money is equal to more work does not always apply. Even pay cuts are not an effective means of bringing negatively reciprocal people back into line.

Ultimately the danger arises that they will take revenge - for example, by refusing to work, or by sabotage, said a Bonn University release.

The study appeared in the current edition of the Economic Journal.

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