advertisement
Home » News » Unselfish Do-Gooders Lack Friends

Unselfish Do-Gooders Lack Friends

Unselfish Do-Gooders Lack Friends Surprise! You are not the only one who resents the person in the office who volunteers for every task and appears to thrive on the annoying details nobody else wants to tackle.

Four separate studies led by a Washington State University social psychologist have found that unselfish workers who are the first to throw their hat in the ring are also among those that coworkers most want to, in effect, vote off the island.

“It’s not hard to find examples but we were the first to show this happens and have explanations for why,” said Craig Parks, lead author of “The Desire to Expel Unselfish Members from the Group” in the current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The phenomenon has implications for business work groups, volunteer organizations, nonprofit projects, military units, and environmental efforts.

Parks and colleagues found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they “raise the bar” for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.

It doesn’t matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone’s unselfish behavior, Parks said.

“What is objectively good, you see as subjectively bad,” he said.

The do-gooders are also seen as deviant rule breakers. It’s as if they’re giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players to no end.

The studies gave participants — introductory psychology students — pools of points that they could keep or give up for an immediate reward of meal service vouchers. Participants were also told that giving up points would improve the group’s chance of receiving a monetary reward.

In reality, the participants were playing in fake groups of five. Most of the fictitious four would make seemingly fair swaps of one point for each voucher, but one of the four would often make lopsided exchanges — greedily giving up no points and taking a lot of vouchers, or unselfishly giving up a lot of points and taking few vouchers.

Most participants later said they would not want to work with the greedy colleague again—an expected result seen in previous studies.

But a majority of participants also said they would not want to work with the unselfish colleague again. They frequently said, “the person is making me look bad” or is breaking the rules. Occasionally, they would suspect the person had ulterior motives.

Parks said he would now like to look at how the do-gooders themselves react to being rejected. While some may indeed have ulterior motives, he said it’s more likely they actually are working for the good of an organization.

Excluded from the group, they may say, “enough already” and simply give up.

“But it’s also possible,” he said, “that they may actually try even harder.”

Source: Washington State University

Unselfish Do-Gooders Lack Friends

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Unselfish Do-Gooders Lack Friends. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/24/unselfish-do-gooders-lack-friends/17198.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.