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Mean People Earn More Money - Especially the Hot Ones
August 16, 2011
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You know that old chestnut, "it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice?" Good advice in your personal life maybe, but it might not work in the business world. And let's throw out another one: "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." A new study has found that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones.

In the study - which is called "Do Nice Guys - and Gals - Really Finish Last?" - scholars at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Notre Dame analyzed over 20 years worth of data from about 10,000 workers, and found that men who measured "below average" in terms of how agreeable they are earned about 18% (or $9,772 annually) more than nice guys. Mean women earned 5% more than their nicer counterparts. The authors suggest that the pay discrepancy is higher for men because being agreeable may not conform to "expectations of 'masculine' behaviour."

And those mean people may be good-looking: another study out of Spain and the UK has found that attractive people tend to be meaner than average, and to co-operate less with others. Of course, that study uses "facial symmetry" as the key measure of attractiveness, an approach that some scholars disagree with, and as the authors themselves say, you shouldn't jump to "simplistic conclusions" about the link between social behaviour and appearances.

All of this puts us in mind of Jon Ronson's fascinating book about the link between success and madness, The Psychopath Test. Ronson thinks that many successful CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths. And if he's right, maybe we should all just accept ourselves as we are - no matter how attractive, mean, or wealthy.

Because in the end, isn't it more important to be nice?


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