Unselfish people are higher earners, so start being more generous now

Those that are giving also tend to excel in other areas important to establishing bonds which, in turn, has been independently proven to promote wealth.

According to the Journal of Personality and Psychology, it’s actually fiscally viable to be altruistic.

Researchers at the University of Stockholm, The University of South Carolina and The Institute for Future Studies recently observed 6,000 Europeans and Americans in an attempt to better understand prosociality and its effect on income.

Prosociality is defined as behavior that is positive, helpful and intended to promote social acceptance and friendship (things like volunteering, sharing and donating for example).


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!


The team has previously established a positive correlation between prosociality and psychological well-being, but they had yet to explore the potential economic benefits.

Unselfish people are higher earners

Despite conventional wisdom, the five studies conducted by the three organizations repeatedly disclosed “selfish people” as the lower earners when compared to altruistic ones. More specifically they found that people that were “moderately prosocial” but not completely giving or selfish earned the most, in four out of the five studies.

“The result is clear in both the American and the European data. The most unselfish people receive the highest salaries. And we also find this result over time – the people who are most generous at one point in time have the largest salary increases when researchers revisit them later in time,” summates Kimmo Eriksson, a researcher at the Centre for Cultural Evolution at Stockholm University.

The reasoning can only be guessed at, though some experts have attempted. The authors of the study for one, believe the selflessness, wealth correlation is due to overall social health. Those that are giving also tend to excel in other areas important to establishing bonds which, in turn, has been independently proven to promote wealth.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, corroborates with the warning that we let our altruism be attended by prudence: “Being Generous without sacrificing yourself.”

Grant also makes the important distinction that having a stake in the well being of others isn’t strictly defined by monetary terms. Giving good advice, providing mentorship, and imparting knowledge” are all valid and integral parts of prosociality.


You might also enjoy…

CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.