Political Correctness/Totalitarian Humanism

‘Do-gooders’ are often judged harshly. Why do we resent their acts of altruism or question their motives?

Because they don’t know how to mind their own business and they’re often not as “kind” as they let on.

By David Robson, BBC

Have you ever come across someone who is incredibly kind and morally upright – and yet also deeply insufferable? They might try to do anything they can to help you or engage in a host of important, useful activities benefiting friends and the wider community. Yet they seem a little bit too pleased with their good deeds and, without any good reason to think so, you suspect that there’s something calculated about their altruism.

Finding yourself taking such an uncharitable attitude towards people who are only trying to make the world a better place might feel uncomfortable. Yet this scepticism is a known behaviour, described by psychologists as “do-gooder derogation”. And while the phenomenon may seem to be wholly irrational, there are some compelling evolutionary reasons for being wary of unreciprocated altruism.

With an understanding of our innate suspicion around overt acts of kindness, we can identify the specific situations in which generosity is welcomed and when it is resented – with some important lessons for our own behaviour.

No good deed goes unpunished

One of the earliest and most systematic examinations of do-gooder derogation comes from a global study by Simon Gächter, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham in the UK.


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