File this one under controversial study results: A report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology asserts that people who are selfish have fewer kids and make less money. Considering no one likes to be thought of as selfish, this really adds insult to injury.
In life, we tend to think that those who aren't as considerate about the feelings of others as the people who get ahead in life, because they're so singularly focused on their goal that they stop at nothing (or little) to attain it. But that's not so, according to researchers who spanned three different universities -- Stockholm University, the Institute for Futures Studies and the University of South Carolina. And their findings weren't solely based on Americans. This goes for those living in Europe as well.
The various teams looked at how selfishness relates to both income and fertility. But how do you measure selfishness? These researchers took into account both attitudes and reported behaviors. Then, in another study, the expectations of your average person was examined to see if what their expectations "aligned with their data."
What they learned was that those deemed selfish have fewer kids, but they do not make more money than someone who takes charity seriously.
In terms of why unselfish people have higher incomes, the researchers' hypothesis is that their generosity and kindness lends itself to better social relationships, making it easier for them to gain higher-paying jobs and make the connections necessary to move up financially. This, however, still has yet to be proven.
According to the studies, the most unselfish people have the most children, while moderately unselfish folks are the highest paid. Kimmo Eriksson, who is a researcher at the Centre for Cultural Evolution in Stockholm, also points to the fact that people who have been more generous at one point in time have the biggest numbers on their paycheck when they're revisited by researchers.
Not that we really need another reason to be kind and considerate, but it is a bit of a relief to hear that nice guys (and gals) don't actually finish last, but rather first. Just another reason to take a deep breath and exhale graciousness even if and when we're confronted with negativity.