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More greedy than generous?

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, December 31, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Do you think people are more apt to repay acts of generosity, or greed? In five experiments involving either money or work conducted by the American Psychological Association, recipients of acts of generosity didn't extend that generosity to others any more often than those who had been treated equally. However, those who were the victims of greed were more likely to react by being greedy with others.

For example, in one experiment, recipients were told that an unknown person had split $6 with them and were given an envelope that contained either the entire $6, an even split of $3 or nothing. Each recipient then received a second envelope with $6 that they could share with other, unknown people and were instructed to place an amount into that envelope. Those who received either the $6 or the $3 in the first envelope weren't any more or less generous with the amount they placed in the second envelope. But those in the group that received nothing -- essentially the victims of greed -- were more apt to put nothing in the second envelope, thus cheating out future recipients.

Researchers conclude that people respond more powerfully to negative actions than positive ones and are more likely to pass along that negativity.

Given the recent history of Ponzi-scheme scandals such as those perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, the backlash against the so-called 1 percent wealthiest Americans and the fallout associated with the largest Wall Street banks, it seems we could use more high-profile examples of extravagant generosity.

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1 Comment
Sue Eppenstein
January 02, 2013 at 12:48 pm

The United States has more than likely been the most Nation in the world for the past 50 years! We have tons of compassion and give money whenever needed, but the unfortunate truth is, the money seldom gets where it is meant to go! For example,
Haiti is still needy, even though a huge amount of money was sent . In reality, the
greedy governments of countries such as this and most African nations have take it and given little , if any help to their poor. The poor in our country would flip if they had to live in the conditions endured by the poor in most third world countries!

That's why many Americans resent the current hatred of Americans and America by other countries and what appears from our own current government heads. They call Social Security an "entitlement"? That is OUR money which we never asked to have taken out of OUR pays to be used without OUR permission by politicians to buy votes over the years (ex: SSI benefits for special needs children and "crazy money").
Who ever gave them permission to use our money? NO ONE. That is why Social Security is looming. It, like so many other government run programs, have take
OUR money and abused it, so it is no longer there for US.

Funny how we can be so generous to the World and so careless about our own people!