Feeds

Germans announce: Revenge is inefficient

If only we'd discovered this sooner

Build a business case: developing custom apps

In development which should strike fear into the hearts of action-movie scriptwriters and BOFHs everywhere, remorselessly efficient German economists have calculated that revenge is inefficient.

According to the German national socio-economic database, vengeful people are more likely to be unemployed, have fewer friends and are less satisfied with their lives than those who occasionally let a bad turn go unpunished.

The new analysis comes from profs at the University of Bonn, using data from the Deutsche Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (German Institute for Economic Research), which carries out widespread surveys among the German people. There was also involvement by researchers in Holland and other countries.

In a survey of 20,000 Germans, respondents - along with the usual answers about employment, satisfaction, number of chums etc. - were asked what their attitude was to the "eye for an eye" school of thought, referred to by the profs as "reciprocity".

Positive reciprocity is the "one good turn deserves another" version, whereas negative reciprocity is for those who simply will not let it lie.

"Both positive and negative reciprocity are widespread in Germany", declares Professor Doktor Armin Falk of the Institut für Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften at Bonn University, summarising the results.

But it seems that the negatively reciprocal vindictive types don't have nearly as good a time. In particular they are much more likely to be unemployed than others, which Falk puts down to the fact that managers find them difficult to motivate (unlike positively-reciprocal sorts, who respond to bonuses or free company drinks by working harder or longer). Even worse, attempts to discipline the irascible, vengeful slacker will lead to trouble: go-slows, or even sabotage.

"On the basis of these theoretical considerations it would be natural to expect that negatively reciprocal people are more likely to lose their jobs," says Falk. "A supposition which coincides with our results."

The prof also says that, at least in Germany, "anyone who prefers to act according to the Old Testament motto of 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth' has on average less friends – and is clearly less than satisfied with his or her life."

The profs publish their paper Homo Reciprocans: Survey Evidence on Behavioural Outcomes in this month's Economic Journal, and online here (subscription required). ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.