Cynics Earns Less, Study

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Thinking more positively about others can significantly boost income, according to a new study.

"While previous research has associated cynicism with detrimental outcomes across a wide range of spheres of life, including physical health, psychological well-being and marital adjustment, the present research has established an association between cynicism and individual economic success," lead researcher Olga Stavrova, PhD, a research associate at the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Germany.

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After comparing data from previous studies, researchers linked cynicism to lower income.

Survey data from 41 countries reviewed that the negative correlation between cynicism and lower income was strongest in countries with higher levels of altruistic behavior, lower homicide rates and lower levels of general societal cynicism.

"There are actually some countries where cynical individuals do not necessarily earn less than their less cynical compatriots," said Stavrova. "These countries are those with pervasively high societal cynicism scores, rare pro-social behavior (e.g., charity donations) and widespread antisocial behavior (as indicated by high homicide rates) - in other words, countries where cynicism might be justified or even somewhat functional."

The latest findings suggest cynical individuals are significantly less likely to trust others and therefore skip out on collaborative opportunities, which could lower their potential for economic success.

"For example, employees who believe others to be exploitative and dishonest are likely to avoid collaborative projects and to forgo the related opportunities," said Stavrova.

"Occupational success and economic prosperity represent important life goals for many people and promote life satisfaction and psychological well-being," concluded Stavrova. "Our findings may help in achieving these goals by encouraging people to adopt a more benevolent and idealistic view of human nature and trustful attitude towards their peers."

The findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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