Tyler Cowen, tireless collector of intellectual tchotchkes and serious analysis alike, has dug up another good question: "Does feeling like a victim make you selfish?" The question comes from Eric Barker. He poses it after viewing the abstract of a particularly fascinating study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:
Three experiments demonstrated that feeling wronged leads to a sense of entitlement and to selfish behavior. In Experiment 1, participants instructed to recall a time when their lives were unfair were more likely to refuse to help the experimenter with a supplementary task than were participants who recalled a time when they were bored. In Experiment 2, the same manipulation increased intentions to engage in a number of selfish behaviors ... In Experiment 3, participants who lost at a computer game for an unfair reason (a glitch in the program) requested a more selfish money allocation for a future task than did participants who lost the game for a fair reason ... .Do we get selfish when we feel wronged?