One of the earliest and most systematic examinations of do-gooder derogation comes from a global study by Simon Gächter, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham in the UK.
MORE IDEAS ON THIS
These findings are worth remembering whenever we find ourselves questioning the behaviours of the people around us. If there’s no good evidence to suggest that their acts of generosity are self-serving, we may choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, knowing that our uncharitable int...
Ultimately, the only fool-proof way to avoid do-gooder derogation may be to do your best deeds in complete secret. And if others happen to discover the truth, despite your attempts to hide it – well, the good reputation that follows is simply a bonus.
Oscar Wilde ma...
Given classic economic theory, you might expect the stingy free-riders to receive those punishments – and that was indeed the case. Amazingly, however, the most altruistic participants were also targeted – even though they were contributing more than their fair share to the others’ riches.
The research might also help us to avoid accidental faux pas when we act altruistically ourselves. At the very least, the research shows that you should avoid noisily broadcasting your good deeds. “And if people bring them up, you should downplay them,” says Raihani. Even if you think tha...
All this means that altruistic behaviour can make us walk a metaphorical tightrope. We need to balance our generosity perfectly, so that we are seen as cooperative and good, without arousing the suspicion that we are acting solely for the status.
Finding yourself taking such an uncharitable attitude towards people who are only trying to make the world a better place might feel uncomfortable. Yet this scepticism is a known behaviour, described by psychologists as “do-gooder derogation”. And while the phenomenon may seem to...
As Raihani points out, we are constantly trying to second-guess the reasons for others’ actions – and we punish people harshly when we suspect that their motives are impure. Those instinctive suspicions may or may not be true, of course. We often base our judgements on intuition rathe...
If the participants play fairly, each round should provide a reasonable return on investment for each person. Those who are very stingy, however, can game the system by paying very little themselves and reaping the rewards of others’ investments. It’s easy to see how resentments could bui...
Ryan Carlson, a graduate student at Yale University, agrees that altruistic behaviours are often appraised from multiple angles besides the generosity of the act itself. “We don’t just value altruism – we value integrity and honesty, which are other signals of our moral character,
To understand the origins of this seemingly irrational behaviour, we need to consider how human altruism emerged in the first place.
According to evolutionary psychology, hardwired human behaviours should have evolved to improve our survival and our ability to pass on our genes to a...
Have you ever come across someone who is incredibly kind and morally upright – and yet also deeply insufferable? They might try to do anything they can to help you or engage in a host of important, useful activities benefiting friends and the wider community. Yet they seem a litt...
Like many studies into altruism, Gächter’s experiment took the form of a “public goods game”. The participants were divided into groups of four, and each person was given tokens representing a small sum of money. Participants were then given the possibility of contributing some o...
Importantly, however, reputation is “positional” – if one person rises, the others fall. This can create a strong sense of competition, which means that we’re always alert to the possibility that other people are getting ahead of us, even if they are achieving their statu...
And if you do happen to gain from an altruistic act, it’s best to be upfront about the fact. Say, for example, that a perfectly innocent act of kindness in the office happened to get the attention of a manager, who then put you forward for promotion. You may be seen more favourably if you acknowl...
Nichola Raihani, is a professor in evolution and behaviour at University College London and author of The Social Instinct. Her research of online fundraising pages has found evidence that some people are aware of the potential for a hostile reaction to their generosity. ...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
‘Do-gooders’ are often judged harshly. Why do we resent their acts of altruism or question their motives?
More like this
Is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology. He has taught at Harvard and the University of Toronto and is an accomplished scientist on the psychology field.
Dr. Peterson is currently one of the world’s most popular public thinkers and writer of...
When psychology developed as a science that was separate from biology and philosophy, they did not know how to describe the human mind and behaviour.
Different schools of psychology emerged that represent major theories within psychology. At first, psychologists identified...
One scholar who has taken a serious look at Parkinson’s Law is Stefan Thurner, a professor in Science of Complex Systems at the Medical University of Vienna. Thurner says he became interested in the concept when the faculty of medicine at the University of Vienna split into its own independent un...
Explore the World’s
Take Your Ideas
Just press play and we take care of the words.
No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.
2 Million Stashers
Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.
Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.
This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!
Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.
Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.
Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.
I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!
Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.
Read & Learn
Access to 200,000+ ideas
Access to the mobile app
Unlimited idea saving & library
Unlimited listening to ideas
Downloading & offline access
Supercharge your mind with one idea per day
Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.
I agree to receive email updates