Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Makes Someone a Jerk?

How do you define what a jerk is? When you get mad at someone for acting like a jerk, is it because they're actually doing awful things, or is it just because they're not being as nice as you would like? The University of Chicago has found out that not only is it better to be nice to people, but we tend to punish people if we feel slighted by them.

Let me explain the experiment. In part 1, you are participating with another guy. The other guy is given $100, and chooses to give you $50. If the roles were reversed afterwards, and you were given another $100 with the option to share some of it with the other guy, how much would you give him?

In part 2, pretend the study gives you $100, but lets the other guy take as much from you as he wants (and he takes $50). When it's your turn, and he gets $100, how much would you take from him?

It turns out that most people felt like they were getting ripped off in part 2, and took as much as they could from the other guy. In part 1, people generally felt grateful and shared their $100 evenly with the other guy to thank him for his earlier generosity.

It's strange because in both situations, the participant ends up with $50 more than he had before. But in the first part, they liked the other person in the study. In the second part, they thought that they were paired with a jerk. They acted accordingly.

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar


Marie said...

My philosophy is this: assume everyone is a jerk.


You will burn many calories in constantly seeking revenge.

You will never be disappointed, only pleasantly surprised when someone proves themselves not to be a jerk.

It is a stressless way of life. :) Almost Zen-like in it's simplicity.

Stanley! said...

Hi, Marie!

That's pretty clever, actually. It's already a pleasant surprise to have you comment on my blog, but I guess that it would have been twice as good if I had been expecting you to post a jerk comment (because I'd be pleasantly surprised).

Anything that burns extra calories is okay with me!

Marie said...

Oh Stanley, you can take my word for it...I am a TOTAL jerk. Just read a posting or two on my blog (especially Holiday Memories) and you will have the proof at your fingertips.

See it is very equal opportunity for me. I can only assume everyone is a jerk because I know what a jerk I am.


The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b