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To Help or To Harm? Assessing the Impact of Envy on Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors.

Authors
  • Behler, Anna Maria C1
  • Wall, Catherine S J1
  • Bos, Adriana1
  • Green, Jeffrey D1
  • 1 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Personality & social psychology bulletin
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
Volume
46
Issue
7
Pages
1156–1168
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0146167219897660
PMID: 31928324
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Two studies examined how envy influences prosocial and antisocial behavior. In Experiment 1, participants in an envious state (relative to a neutral state) were less helpful: They picked up fewer dropped pencils in their immediate vicinity. We expanded upon these findings by examining how envy affected both helping and harming behavior in a competitive scenario. In Experiment 2, individuals in envious or neutral states assigned puzzle tasks to another student in a prisoner's dilemma style scenario. Prosocial and antisocial behaviors were assessed via the difficulty of the assigned puzzles (easy puzzles were considered helpful and difficult puzzles were harmful). We hypothesized that experiencing envy would result in greater motive to harm as well as greater likelihood of engaging in harmful behavior. The hypothesis was supported, suggesting that envy has detrimental ramifications that go beyond the individual and extend to interpersonal relationships.

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