The Selfish Benefits of Pronoia

Want to Ward Off the Evil Eye? Just Be Nice

The more the volunteers anticipated being envied in a threatening way, the more helpful they were. Interestingly, they were actually less helpful than controls if they anticipated benign envy, suggesting that their preemptive altruism was motivated by fear rather than sympathy for the less fortunate. The experimenters ran another version of this experiment in which some participants clearly deserved their good fortune and others clearly did not, and as expected, those who were undeserving helped more to compensate for their unearned windfall.

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