Does it really pay to be a nice guy?

A new study reveals some good news…

The Bible links material success to behavior. In general, doing right and treating others well is the road to success and riches. Being vile leads to poverty:

Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked. (Prov. 15:6)

Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. (Prov. 13:11)

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Prov. 13:22)

He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. (Prov. 22:16)


The evolutionary worldview also links behavior to wealth. Except, its governing principle is survival of the fittest. In this material world, there’s no such thing as a conscience. Anyone who obeys what they think is their conscience, is just needlessly limiting their own capacity for success. They are also easy prey to the ruthless power seekers.

There’s also no such thing as a providential God governing the flow of history, no God who will punish the evildoers and uphold the righteous. If you want to make it big, then to climb to the top you need to do it by stepping on everybody else to get there. There will be no eternal consequences for your actions, and there can only be positive benefits to being so ruthless.

Except, a new study has revealed some interesting results. At Bloomberg we read:

In the world of high finance, it’s been an article of faith among some that the only way to succeed—or even survive—is to be ruthless. But a new study in the latest issue of the Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin suggests those money makers at the top of the food chain, hedge fund managers, could benefit from being a little less mean. It turns out that people who exhibit what health professionals consider psychopathic traits actually perform worse than their peers over time.

Psychologists define a “psychopath” as someone who, among other things, lacks a conscience—an individual who often acts in a manipulative fashion for personal gain. While such traits aren’t the best way to win friends and influence people outside of work, they are seen by the more mercenary as advantageous when it comes to climbing the career ladder or making money.

This may not be the case.


Hedge fund managers were filmed, and their actions rated, to determine how psychopathic they were. The results were interesting:

They found a pattern: Being nice pays.

The most “psychopathic” managers had the worst investment records. Those who ranked in the top 16 percent on the psychopathy scale lagged the average by 0.88 percent per year. Narcissistic managers, meanwhile, turned in mediocre returns, but their clients had to endure more volatility to get them, according to the study. That might be because narcissism, associated with overconfidence, causes fund managers to stick longer with ideas that just aren’t working, ten Brinke said.

The new study flies in the face of earlier research that arrived at darker conclusions. Previous studies have shown that psychopaths often get promoted quickly in large organizations. They can come across as confident and charming, and are often very ambitious. Other research showed that people with psychopathic traits are more likely to want to be entrepreneurs.

The Bible is not unrealistic. It doesn’t promise that always being nice will always lead to success. It is also clear that evildoers tend to do well, at least for a while. But in the long run, if the Bible is true, we would expect good guys to finish first, as long as they define what’s good and what’s nice the same way the Bible does.

The wealth of the wicked will be laid up for the righteous.

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