Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fear of being envied makes people behave well toward others

Date:
December 3, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
It's nice to have success -- but it can also make you worry that the jealous people will try to bring you down. New research has found that the fear of being the target of malicious envy makes people act more helpfully toward people who they think might be jealous of them.

It's nice to have success -- but it can also make you worry that the jealous people will try to bring you down. New research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, has found that the fear of being the target of malicious envy makes people act more helpfully toward people who they think might be jealous of them.

Related Articles


In previous research, Niels van de Ven of Tilburg University and his colleagues Marcel Zeelenberg and Rik Pieters had figured out that envy actually comes in two flavors: benign envy and malicious envy. They studied people who showed these two kinds of envy and found that people with benign envy were motivated to improve themselves, to do better so they could be more like the person they envied. On the other hand, people with malicious envy wanted to bring the more successful person down. Van de Ven and his colleagues wondered what the experience was like for the people who are the target of the envy.

"In anthropology, they say if you are envied, you might act more socially afterward because you try to appease those envious people," van de Ven says -- by sharing your big catch of fish, for example. They wanted to know if these observations from anthropology held up in the psychology lab.

In experiments, he and his colleagues made some people feel like they would be maliciously envied, by telling them they would receive an award of five euros -- sometimes deserved based on the score they were told they'd earned on a quiz, sometimes not. The researchers figured the deserved prize would lead to benign envy, while the undeserved prize would lead to malicious envy. Then the volunteer was asked to give time-consuming advice to a potentially envious person.

People who had reason to think they'd be the target of malicious envy were more likely to take the time to give advice than targets of benign envy.

In another experiment, an experimenter dropped a bunch of erasers as the volunteer was leaving; those who thought they'd be maliciously envied were more likely to help him pick them up.

"This sort of serves a useful group function," says van de Ven. We all think better off people should share with others, "but that's not something we are inclined to do when we are better off." This fear of envy can encourage us to behave in ways that improve the social interactions of the group.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. van de Ven, M. Zeelenberg, R. Pieters. Warding Off the Evil Eye: When the Fear of Being Envied Increases Prosocial Behavior. Psychological Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1177/0956797610385352

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Fear of being envied makes people behave well toward others." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203123601.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, December 3). Fear of being envied makes people behave well toward others. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203123601.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Fear of being envied makes people behave well toward others." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101203123601.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins