Parks and Stone found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they "raise the bar" for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.
It doesn't matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone's unselfish behavior, Parks said.
"What is objectively good, you see as subjectively bad," he said.
The do-gooders are also seen as deviant rule breakers. It's as if they're giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players to no end.
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