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A new study shows how reciprocal generosity can benefit you.
30 September, 2018
- Researchers studied what people do when distributing items of unequal value.
- You may be more likely to get the item you want if you let the other person decide.
- Reciprocal generosity can let you "give up your cake and eat it too".
<br></li></ul><p>People may be nicer than you think. A new study says that people are generally willing to give up something they want to appear generous. </p><p>Let's say you've been circling the mall's parking lot and ended up next to a free space right by the elevator at the same time as another car with someone you know from the PTA. And you both have just as much of a claim to the spot. In the meantime, there's a spot much farther away that opened up as well. What would you do? Chances are, says the <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-39622-001" target="_blank">new paper</a> in the<em> Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, </em>if you offer the person in the other car to choose what they'd like to do, they will give up the better spot to you and think you're generous. </p><p>Scientists <strong>Michael Kardas, Alex Shaw and Eugene Caruso</strong> at the University of Chicago conducted eight studies that showed the complexity of either/or scenarios, when a person has to choose between being worse off materially or having their reputation improve. </p><p>By utilizing a group of <strong>300</strong> online volunteers, the researchers looked at how frequently people abdicate decisions when faced with having to distribute items of unequal value – like a higher-end food product vs. something worse in quality – between themselves and a friend. </p><p>Almost <strong>70%</strong> said they would abdicate the decision, giving the other person the choice in distributing the items. They would do so to seem more generous. In a real-life test of this study, an experiment conducted in a park that involved pairs of local people who knew each other, a similar ratio of <strong>2/3s </strong>of the subjects decided to abdicate their decision. Interestingly, if they did that, more often then not,<strong> the other person gave up the more valuable item.</strong></p><p>An additional online study of <strong>310</strong> people concluded that if people were informed that their friend abdicated the decision, leaving it up to them, they were much more likely to give up the higher-value object in question than to take it themselves. </p><p>Researchers see this fact supporting the idea that people view abdication of decision as an act of generosity, which would prompt a <strong>reciprocal generosity.</strong> </p><p>This abdication effect was observed among strangers as well but with a twist. If given the choice to decide what they or a stranger would get, participants were more likely to keep the higher-valued item for themselves. But if told that the stranger abdicated the decision to them, they were again more likely to give up the better option rather than keep it. A real-world test of this involved gift cards of varying amounts and showed the same results as the imaginary situations.</p><blockquote>"In sum, abdication seems to be beneficial in more ways than one: abdicators are not only perceived to be generous, but they also tend to receive the larger slice of the pie," <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-39622-001" target="_blank">wrote the researchers. </a></blockquote><p>They also described their finding as "abdication provides a unique opportunity for people to <strong>give up their cake and eat it too.</strong>" It pays to be nice.</p>
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