Those of us who watch TV shows like "Mad Men" and movies like "Wall Street," assume that CEOs lead more stressful lives than the rest of us--but actually, the opposite is true. It turns out that heart attacks happen more often to the people who work under them.
Statistics on human heart attacks show this is true, but additional evidence comes from monkey studies. The high risk of disease among monkeys at the bottom of the hierarchy show that that biochemical responses to low status affect their immune systems--and ours. Chronic, generalized inflammation is a risk factor for a long list of health problems, from heart trouble to Alzheimer's disease. In this world, there are winners and losers (and the winners often wear red!) and, for your own safety, it is best to fear the winners.
A new study found that those who outperformed others on a competitive task acted more aggressively against the people they beat than the losers did against the victors. Psychologist Brad Bushman says, "It seems that people have a tendency to stomp down on those they have defeated, to really rub it in." (You have to be a PSYCHOLOGIST to know this?)
"Losers, on the other hand, don’t really act any more aggressively than normal against those who defeated them." You would expect losers to be more aggressive, because they would be angry against those who prevented them from feeling competent. However, research suggests that people are more aggressive when they feel powerful, as they may when they win a competition.
After his experiments, Bushman has some advice for the rest of us: "Losers need to watch out."
Worrying may have evolved along with intelligence as a beneficial trait. Psychiatrist Jeremy Coplan says, "While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be. In essence, worry may make people 'take no chances,' and such people may have higher survival rates. Thus, like intelligence, worry may confer a benefit upon the species."
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