Is selfishness context-dependent?


Does thinking about scarcity make people more selfish or generous?

As a graduate student, I often felt that money was tight, time was insufficient, sleep was a rare commodity, and food was lacking in the house. Objectively, my stipend provided me with a decent living, I managed my time efficiently most days, I slept a decent amount of hours most nights, and I always had something to eat at home. Subjectively, however, I often thought about these resources in terms of scarcity, or “not having enough.” People often think about, worry about, or discuss scarcity-related concerns, but relatively little is known about their impact on people’s thoughts, judgment and behavior. For instance, how did thinking in terms of scarcity (e.g., not having enough food in my refrigerator) impact my everyday behavior? This question is especially important since people from all walks of life and levels of socioeconomic status can experience resource scarcity; even bankers with a seven figure annual income. ….[READ]


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