UPDATE from Marla Frees! – Many people think that Jesus was the author of “the golden rule,” but he was actually demonstrating his scholarship by quoting Rabbi Hillel. But is this a good rule to live by? Only if by “doing unto others,” you’re talking about POSITIVE things.

Psychologists have discovered that, in everyday social exchanges, being mean to people has a lot more impact than being nice, which may be why people in power, such as movie and TV executives, act the way they do.

Feeling slighted can have a bigger difference on how a person responds than being the recipient of perceived generosity, even if the net value of the social transaction is the same.To examine how people respond to situations involving reciprocity, researchers conducted experiments with college students, as well as with people on the street.

One such experiment tested 40 college students. The students were divided into two groups and asked to conduct experiments that began in two different ways using money. In the first group, one player learned that another player had $100 and was going to share it. In each situation, the player with the money gave the other player $50. When the roles were reversed, the players who received the $50 received $100 which they could share with the other players. In that exchange, those players gave their partners on average $49.50.

In another experiment, the researchers found that the act of taking had a far bigger impact on people’s responses than did the act of sharing. A player received $100 from which another player was able to take as much as desired. That player took $50, leaving the first player with $50 just like in the sharing experiment. But when the roles were reversed, the first players took back much more, leaving the partners with an average of $42.

Researcher Boaz Keysar says, “Negative reciprocity, or taking, escalates. For instance in driving, if you are kind and let someone go in front of you, that driver may be considerate in response. But if you cut someone off, that person may react very aggressively, and this could escalate to road rage.”

The situation can escalate when the person doing the slighting doesn’t appreciate how strongly the slight is being experienced. Keysar says, “The one receiving the slight cannot imagine that the slighter lacks that appreciation. And so it goes, because of such differential perception, they respond more and more strongly. Small slights could escalate to unbelievable [and] irrational feuds.”

UPDATE: According to psysic medium (and Dreamland host) Marla Frees, dreams can point the way to what our lives are reallly about. (Scroll down on Marla’s blogspot to read her dream diary)

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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