Contrary to what one might think, it has just been shown that selfish people earn less than generous ones. More logically, they also have fewer children.
We all would not be selfish, according to a new interdisciplinary study. The recent publication of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology proves that disinterested people tend to have more children and earn a better living.
"The most generous people at some point in their lives have the highest salary increases afterwards," says Kimmo Eriksson, research director and researcher at Stockholm University. Previous research has already associated generosity with enriching social relationships, greater psychological well-being, and even better physical health.
Relationships of lesser quality
Researchers analyzed data from five major European and US studies. "On the whole, selfless people tend to have higher fertility and income than selfish people," they note. Concerning more particularly fertility, two explanations are advanced. The first is that selfish individuals see less interest in having children, who, according to some of them, "waste" time and money. Another possibility is that selfish individuals have poorer relationships, and therefore fewer opportunities to have children.
For income, researchers believe that generous people have stronger professional and friendly networks, which are key sources of access to jobs and promotions. They have also shown that money is the main motivation for selfish behavior, associated in the collective imagination with higher incomes. "The highest incomes have been associated with lower levels of altruism," say the scientists.
The positive effects of long-term generosity
"We collected everyone's beliefs to see if they matched our data, and our results showed that while people generally expect selfish people to have fewer children, they mistakenly believe that individuals selfish people will earn more money, "they conclude. The benefits of generosity are more visible in the long term than in the short term, and vice versa for the consequences of selfishness.
Last year, a study indicated that generosity grew with age, making French seniors the champions of altruism.