Study finds 'selfish' Americans are only motivated by self-serving acts
London, Feb. 5 : Americans are not driven by a sense of community, a new study by psychologists at Stanford University has found.
The research found that calls to Americans to act interdependently, rather than independently, could even make things worse.
So if one wants to try and get people to do something like recycling, it's better to stress that it's good for them individually rather than pointing out the wider benefits.
According to the Daily Mail, MarYam Hamedani, one of the study's authors, said that 'American culture stresses independence, and the desire for independence fuels behaviour'.
Hamedani said that 'people often like the idea of working together and certainly care about social issues, but their findings show that thinking about and caring about others doesn't always translate into effective action'.
Researchers found that being selfish really does make them happier, so long as they can avoid feeling guilty.
Although everyone is taught the benefits of kindness and altruism, it seems they are happiest when simply told to pursue our own self-interest.
Researchers found the key to contentment is feeling we have no choice, but to be selfish.
In contrast, the study, carried out by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania, found that those who actively choose a selfish path usually have to battle with guilt.
Psychological scientists Jonathan Berman and Deborah Small of the University of Pennsylvania carried out tests to see when people feel happiest.
In one they recruited 216 undergraduates and gave them each 3 dollars.
Some were told to donate it to the charity UNICEF, some were told to keep the money and some participants were told that they could choose what to do with it.
Those students told to keep the money for themselves reported being far happier with the outcome than those who were told to donate the money and those who were free to choose.
According to the report, the researchers noted that Asian-American students are exposed to both mainstream American culture, which stresses independence, and East Asian culture, which stresses the value and importance of interdependence.
As a result, appeals to think and act interdependently or independently were equally motivating, the report added.