Turns Out Nice Folks Don’t Finish Last After All

When it comes to business, being a jerk doesn’t necessarily help.
By Maddy Weinberg

Turns out nice folks don’t finish last, after all. A UC Berkeley-led study published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found that “disagreeable individuals,” defined as those with combative, selfish, and manipulative traits, don’t achieve greater career success than their kinder counterparts. 

So, how does that explain the rise of a bully like Donald Trump?  According to the study’s lead author Cameron Anderson, a professor of organizational behavior at the Haas School of Business, the research showed that while, “disagreeableness did not help people attain power, … it also did not hurt their pursuit of power.” 

To conduct the study, Anderson and his research team assessed participants’ personalities prior to entering the workforce, then measured the power that they had attained more than a decade into their careers. According to the findings, there are as many jerks at the top as there are gems. This result held true across a variety of industries, despite differences in gender, ethnicity, and intellect. 

So why do we persist in believing that jerks prosper? “That’s what I’d like to know!” says Anderson, who hopes to tackle the question in a future study. “One possibility is that when we see someone in power who is disagreeable, like Trump, that example really stands out. … But for now, it’s still a mystery.”

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.
Filed under: Science + Health
Image source: Pexels
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A very provocative story Maddy. To bully or not to be bullied may be one of the questions that should also be considered. RCP “President Trump Job Approval” polls appear to prove that at least 40% are either bullies or people who think our democracy should be led by bullies. It doesn’t appear to matter to them that Trump has enabled an out of control pandemic along with increasingly out of control climate change disasters, violence and inequalities that threaten the entire human race today. So I hope that Anderson and his research team come up with answers and solutions we can implement today, with the greatest sense of urgency, because current events are proving that the answer to the 2006 California Magazine “Global Warning” cover story question “Can We Adapt in Time?” is No.