New Study: Mean People Earn More Money

Mean co-workers earn more money. (Photo by Chris Wilson/SemperNovus).

Are you Miss Congeniality at work? If so, chances are, your mean co-workers earn more money than you.

He may not be smarter, or more efficient than you, but just the mere fact that he’s a jerk makes him more valuable to the powers-that-be, according to a new study, “Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last?” by Dr. Livingston, Timothy A. Judge of the University of Notre Dame and Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario, presented earlier this week at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.

The study rated agreeableness, and the nice workers earned significantly less than the mean workers.

By the numbers, the data found that mean males earned almost 20 percent more, about $9,800, annually than nice males. Mean or rude women earned 5 percent more or about $1,800 more, than nice women.

Researchers analyzed two decades’ worth of self-reported data collected from 10,000 workers (the workers were from various professions, ages and had various income levels), and measured the “agreeableness” factors.

Phase two of the research involved 460 business students, acting as human resource officials for a fictional company, who selected job candidates based on short descriptions of them. Men defined as nice were less likely to get the job.

The idea of mean folks doing well in the workplace isn’t new; University of British Columbia professor emeritus Robert Hare found that psychopaths — those who don’t have a conscience, or an idea of right and wrong — are typically found in the corner office.

Dr. Hare, author of Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, has said that charismatic bosses without conscience were to blame behind the major corporate scandals that plagued Wall Street during the Enron era.

Subsequent comparisons have been made concerning the 2008 housing bubble disaster.

There’s a range between the violent psychopath and the power-hungry psychopathic CEO, according to Dr. Hare. “There are certainly more people in the business world who would score high in the psychopathic dimension than in the general population,” he told Fast Company. “These are callous, cold-blooded individuals. They don’t care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt or remorse.”

What do you think? Do you believe that you must be mean and heartless to excel at work? Or are you a nice person who has found success?

Zondra Hughes

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out

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