We Like the Lucky

by F.

The myth that “we get what we deserve and deserve what we get” prevails despite evidence to the contrary, perhaps because we are born to believe it. Here is the latest bit of data, from Science Daily:

Young children express stronger liking for the beneficiaries of good luck compared to the victims of bad lack and generalize this preference to those who share membership in a group.

Because the disadvantaged are more likely to experience negative events beyond their control — such as the tendency for the poor to be most impacted by natural disasters — this innocuous preference for the privileged may eventually grow more harmful, further increasing negativity toward the disadvantaged. Such preferences may, in turn, help explain the persistence of social inequality.

Kristina R. Olsen is (it seems) the lead author of the paper, published in Psychological Science, that recounts the results:

We set out to study how children make sense of random events, such as Hurricane Katrina, and how they feel about the people affected by such random events. Understanding how children think about others who experience luck or misfortune can provide a window into the origins of attitudes and preferences toward social groups that vary in privilege.

The full Science Daily piece is here.