Image via NBC.
What the Study Reveals
A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a link between cynicism and economic success. Researchers evaluated data from around the world and discovered that high levels of cynicism are associated with lower income. Researchers report that after nine years, cynical participants earned $300 per month less than their more positive counterparts.
Why would cynical people earn less money? The authors suggest their unwillingness to trust others may lead to a refusal to cooperate. Additionally, their constant suspicion of other people’s motives may make them less likely to collaborate and less likely to ask for help, both of which can harm their careers.
Interestingly, researchers discovered that the earnings disparity didn’t hold true for participants who resided in areas where there was widespread antisocial behaviour – like a high homicide rate. In these areas, where a suspicious outlook is likely to serve as a safety measure, a cynical attitude didn’t interfere with economic achievement. (Post continues after gallery.)
The consequences of a negative attitude extends beyond economic hardship. Here’s what other research studies have found:
- A 2009 study found that cynicism placed women at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
- A 2010 study concluded that hostility and cynicism were associated with inflammation in the body.
- A 2014 study linked cynicism with a higher risk of dementia.
How cynical are you?
Unless you’re a real curmudgeon, it’s unlikely that you’re cynical about everyone all the time. But there may be a few areas where you tend to err on the side of negativity. Gaining insight into the aspects of your life where you may be a tad too pessimistic could be helpful.
Here's a quick test - consider how much you agree with the following statements:
- I think most people would lie to get ahead.
- It's safer to trust nobody.
- Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.
This tool - which was used by researchers to study the link between cynicism and dementia -- shows there are degrees of cynicism. Perhaps you agree with one of the above statements. Or maybe you think all three of them are partially true. Or perhaps you're only cynical about certain people -- like all sales professionals.