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Why Being Distrustful of Others Can Cost You Money

What characteristics first come to mind when thinking about why some people earn less money than others? Do you think of them as being less motivated with poor work ethic? Do you think they are being screwed over by their employer(s)? Is it the darn gender inequality? Maybe you simply think that is just how the work world operates.

See Also: How Redundancy Makes Us Cynical

Well, recent research has indicated a different reason as to why some people’s bank accounts are suffering more than others: too much cynicism! For those who may not know what that is, it’s more than just a bad attitude (I’ll explain more later).


The research was conducted by scientists at the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, which is part of the University of Cologne, Germany. The study participants included thousands of people from the U.S. and Germany. They all took surveys in order for the researchers to collect data about their cynicism level in connection to income, which happened during a nine-year period.

What The Study Data Showed

The survey data proved that cynics tended to earn less moolah (i.e. money) than their more optimistic counterparts. As for what cynicism is, it is characterized as one being distrustful of others and having a more pessimistic outlook on life. In other words, the glass is half empty for cynical folks, while the glass is half full for more trusting folks.

Here is an example of one of the survey questions participants were encouraged to answer: “Do you believe that most people would exploit you if they had the opportunity?” How would you answer that?

...among German participants, the least cynical people saw their monthly income increase by about 230 Euros (or around $250) between 2003 and 2012. Meanwhile, the most cynical people didn’t see any significant increase in their monthly income.

What Does Cynicism Have To Do With It?

The research suggests that too much cynicism serves as a barrier to those who possess it because it influences them to avoid collaborating with their coworkers as much as possible. They may go as far as not asking for help, even though they really need it. They tend to have a more self-reliant kind of attitude, but it turns out to be more self-destructive for them, in the financial realm.

Since they are more likely to assume the worst about the motives behind other people’s actions, they undermine their chances of experiencing significant financial success through social connections. However, the link between cynicism and income with regard to different countries indicates something a little surprising.

The correlation between cynicism and income is most profound in countries with high rates of friendliness and cooperation as well as low rates of antisocial behaviors (i.e. crime). This means cynics only struggle more financially while being employed in an environment that does not widely validate their pessimistic beliefs.

Before learning about the study, I would have likely thought the link would be the strongest in countries with high rates of social problems (because of the increased exposure). I’ll explain further why that is not the case.

The more cynics there are that live and work in the same community, the less distinction is noticeable between income levels within the community. Therefore, there would be less indication of such members being at an economic disadvantage compared to one another. On the flipside of that circumstance, the distinction would be greater (and more identifiable), leaving cynics more economically disadvantaged.

More Optimism Leads To More Money

Embracing a more cheerful and trusting attitude gives you the opportunity to earn more moolah. There is no doubt that the world consists of a lot of interpersonal issues that are very discouraging in nature. Yet changing your perspective to counteract such issues can be highly beneficial - not just for your wallet, but for your overall health (e.g. less stress).

It definitely takes practice to develop more optimism about life. In fact, it’s a lifelong process. For example, showing more gratitude about the positive experiences you have had can lead to more of them in the future, which encourages a happier outlook.

See Also: Why Does Your Attitude Affect Your Workplace?

Enjoy watching this Ted Talks video featuring Kare Anderson’s perspective on being an opportunity maker through building trust in relationships:

Do you tend to have a more pessimistic viewpoint about life? If so, I hope this article helps you think differently. Please let us know in the comment section below…

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Why Cynical People Earn Less Money