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If you take cynicism home, it will hit your take home salary

A cynical person is likely to earn less than a person with lower levels of cynicism, say researchers who studied survey data from the US and Europe.

sex and relationships Updated: Jun 01, 2015 20:32 IST
Workplace tips,Workplace politics,Cynicism

If you are a cynic, you are likely to earn less than those with low levels of cynicism say researchers who found that high levels of cynicism are associated with lower income levels later in life.

"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," said Olga Stavrova, a research associate at the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Germany.

The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, outlined a series of studies using survey data from the US and Europe.

The first two studies looked at cynicism (as measured by responses to a questionnaire) in national surveys of Americans (1,146 and 497 participants respectively) and income level at a later date.

While both studies found that a high level of cynicism was associated with lower income, another study, focusing on a nationally representative sample of approximately 16,000 people in Germany, found that after nine years people with low levels of cynicism earned on average USD 300 per month more than their more cynical counterparts.

The final study examined the potential universality of these findings, looking at survey data from 41 countries to see if societal factors could play a role.

The negative association between cynicism and lower income was strongest in countries with higher levels of altruistic behaviour, lower homicide rates and lower levels of overall 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 behaviour (eg, charity donations) and widespread antisocial behaviour (as indicated by high homicide rates) - in other words, countries where cynicism might be justified or even somewhat functional," said Stavrova.

One reason for these findings could be that cynical individuals were less likely to trust others and therefore forgo cooperation opportunities, said Stavrova.

They were more likely to suspect mean motives behind other people's behaviour, might be less likely to join collaborative efforts and may avoid asking for help in case of need, which may eventually undermine their economic success.

First Published: Jun 01, 2015 16:07 IST