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Are mean people born that way?
April 18th, 2012
09:27 AM ET

Are mean people born that way?

Let's face it - everyone isn't nice. In fact, being nice is more difficult for some people than others. But is it possible that "niceness" is predetermined by our genes?

A new study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this: If you think the world is full of threatening people, you're not going feel compelled to be generous by doing things like volunteering and donating to charity. But if you have certain gene variants, you're more likely to be nice anyway.

Now hold on a minute - this doesn't give your mean neighbor an excuse to blame his DNA for not letting kids on the block play on his lawn.

It's a little more complicated than that.

The research: A few questions and some spit 

Researchers offered an online survey to participants asking questions like:

–do people have a duty to pay taxes?

–are people basically good or bad?

–do you engage in charitable activities?

Then some participants sent in samples of their saliva so researchers could check out their DNA. A total of 348 U.S. residents were included in the final analysis.

Researchers analyzed the spit samples. They looked at the particular variants of receptor genes these people had for the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.

In case you're wondering, oxytocin and vasopressin are very similar structurally, and seem to have some similar social effects. For example, they're both associated with pair bonding - aka bringing closer together two spouses or a mom and her child.

In fact, that's why oxytocin has been called "the cuddle hormone."

But while the hormones have similar effects on the brain, they differ in the rest of the body. Oxytocin can induce labor. Vasopressin increases when you're thirsty and prevents the formation of urine.

As the authors of the new study expected, people who see the world as a threatening place tended to not engage in charitable activities - except if they had particular variants of the receptor genes that the researchers were looking for.

It turns out that if the receptors are especially sensitive to oxytocin and vasopressin, even people who fear others in society will do nice things, said Michael Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo and study co-author.

"We’ve found that these genes also predict people’s willingness to be nice on behalf of other people or aggressive on behalf of other people," Poulin said. In other words, such biological factors may influence your willingness to defend someone else.

That is consistent with other research, which found that rat mothers are more willing to be aggressive on behalf of pups when they received oxytocin.

Previous research has also shown that these hormones make people more socially active.

Blame the DNA?

Keep in mind that this study only shows associations between genes, hormones and behavior, and doesn't prove direct causal links.

It's not a "blame your DNA" situation, Poulin said.

"While we found some interesting interactions with genes and perceptions of the world, I would resist saying that we found genes that control behavior," he cautioned.

The next step for this area of study is to look at how sensitive people are to different kinds of threats.

A few questions that might be posed by future researchers:

–Is it important for people to believe they're helping good people?

–Is there something in a person's background or upbringing that influences how threatening they believe the world is?

Poulin and colleagues will also look at what other behaviors these genes might influence.

So it's probably a little too early for mean people to start using their DNA as a convenient excuse for their bad behavior. But maybe someday...


soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. Milky Pirate

    The reason people are mean has nothing to do with DNA, but has everything to do with the fact that being mean is a lot more fun than being nice!

    April 18, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jerkface

      AMEN!! Oh, did I mention you're fugly? 😀

      April 18, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      How sad that you think that way.

      April 18, 2012 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • allyoop

      Being mean is only fun for mean people.

      April 18, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • MeanPerson

      Bite me!

      April 18, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Girl Next Door

      I'm telling your mom you said that.

      April 18, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
    • SimonSays

      Why not use "born that way" to explain their actions. Works for various sexual preferences. Shoot I was born to watch ESPN, you don't see/hear me bragging about it:)

      April 18, 2012 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
    • Jessica T.

      If we were all nice people then there would be no conflict, and without conflict the world would be such a mundane place to live. Mix it up you vanilla losers!

      April 18, 2012 at 20:33 | Report abuse |
    • winstonsmith

      "If we were all nice people then there would be no conflict, and without conflict the world would be such a mundane place to live."

      This is, as usual, a completely dumb thing to say. (Am I being mean now?) Seriously, just idiotic. If nobody was mean (ie nobody actively ever tried to make someone else feel worse), we'd still have conflict. Disease would still exist. Mother nature would still cause disasters beyond imagination. Our technology would still fail us at times and kill people (cars crashing, planes breaking down, train accidents, etc.) Moreover, people would still be greedy... you can be ME ME ME and still not want to actively harm others. People would still steal for their own good. Wars would still happen over resources. People would still disagree over important topics not because they want to argue but because they have honestly different opinions.

      So no... using conflict is necessary as a reason to be mean is quite frankly idiotic to an offensive degree. It's scary that people think like this. The very fact that we can die means CONFLICT will always, always exist. Don't use stupid reasoning to make up for the fact that you're a cruel and/or sociopathic personality. I've had conflicts with my best friends and we never aim to hurt each other. Conflict comes with life.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      Jesssica: I beg to differ. If everyone were basically nice we'd be using our talents to do awesome things instead of wasting so much energy and resources on stupid, petty fights. Mean behavior is indicative not of an aggressive individual, but rather a stupid, immature individual. When everyone has at least some level of decency, a LOT more important stuff gets done and EVERYONE benefits materially, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
    • Sol

      It's a matter empathy. If it hurts you to see someone else being miserable and makes you happy to see others doing well or enjoying life, then you can't be a mean person. Your body releases hormones in sync with other people rather than opposed to them, but a mean person's hormones are out of sync. If mean people were all destroyed the nice people would be sad at first, but when they realized everyone else was happy, they would become happy too.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:12 | Report abuse |
    • JPoet

      So you killed the gerbils!

      April 18, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse |
    • jfb

      i disagree! i think we are born that way it is in our geens and not a choice

      April 18, 2012 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
    • QuiGon Bong

      Kayla – Welcome to the world we live in.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
    • Deej59

      Man, I was hoping the takeaway from this was that there may be hope for awful people through the magic of modern medicine. Maybe "make me less evil" pills. But no, the takeaway is that evil people might be able to use this as a defense in court someday. Gawd.

      April 18, 2012 at 22:46 | Report abuse |
    • eldono

      ...and has everything to do with testosterone. So, why isn't this brought into the picture? Of course, those with lots of it don't want the truth discussed.

      April 18, 2012 at 23:33 | Report abuse |
    • bernie

      Actually being mean impresses girls for some stupid reason..... blame them

      April 19, 2012 at 00:10 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I would venture to say being mean, may "seem" nice to a lot of people who enjoy seeing others suffer.....But, I pose this question: Do YOU enjoy someone hitting you, saying insulting things to you, or doing harmful things to those you love most???? FOLKS...this isn't a DNA issue...This is about growing up in any particular environment and the person living there either accepting the way things are presented....or, questioning them and making a change to make things better for themselves......I don't know of any baby that was born that slapped a doctor after he slapped it on the ass......

      April 19, 2012 at 00:20 | Report abuse |
  2. Kay

    Boycott the Walgreens that Melanie Jones works at so she loses her job....now THAT's mean and I love it.

    April 18, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • deuce

      Aw, did someone break up with you?

      April 18, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  3. Adam

    I don't think anyone is born that way, they learn it. People are not born rapists, they learn to be ok with it. I wasn't born mean, I just read CNN comments too much. Makes me want to be mean to people and look down on them for being what they are, below me.

    April 18, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      Really, you put new replies in a descending order as opposed to ascending. Failures.

      April 18, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • gremlinus

      Rapists are perhaps a bad example. There are several different types of rapists and some of them are born that way it seems. Of course it could be the same way with "mean people" so maybe it's not so bad of a n example after all.....

      April 18, 2012 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
  4. boom

    define mean..... many different wackos have different levels of tolerance.... and these days the religious nutcases need to hush up

    April 18, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RckyMtnGrl

    One can very easily make the choice within themselves: To be or not to be a d-bag. I'll be the first to admit that I have d-bag moments just like the rest, and I refuse to hold my DNA accountable for said d-bag moments. Instead of trying to play the blame game like so many do for their various faults, I choose to recognize that I make less-than-noble choices on occasion, and I deserve whatever reprucussions may result, pure and simple.

    I do believe that chemical imbalances within the brain that cause depression/bi-polarity/etc etc etc can be a valid cause for negative behavior (to a degree); however, to give justification to those who act d-baggy because they simply choose to do so strikes me as decidedly ridiculous.

    April 18, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. emil

    I don't htink people are born mean, but ARE born with the capacity to be meaner faster. I can only speak for myself, but I used to think I was a really outgoing, funloving nice positive person, who was just moody sometimes.
    No

    Apparently it doesn't matter what I do, where I go, who I meet, where I work, people juat HATE me. They F'ing hate and take any chance to treat ,me like dirt. For the longest time it would really hurt my feelings and make me very sad and depressed, and now I'm just used to it. I've gotten bitter and hateful. I see people smiling and hope they get his by a car. I see horrible children everywhere and retch at the thought of more terrible people.

    But I don't do anything, I just avoid them. The more connceted the world becomes the more I detach. All I really want toi do now is sit on a beach somewhere and read. Thats it. That's my lifes' goal. To sit on a beach and read till I die, away from everybody I have ever met and hurt me.
    I guess I must still be a nice guy, cause I don't want to hurt them either. Its' just sad that you can't just live and let live anymore. But then again, who defines mean? Cause to the group of coworkers who talk smack about my race and gender and youth everyday, I'm the mean one when I speak up and tell them to knock it off, you know, don't call me racial slurs, and they are just having innocent fun.

    This type of atmosphere bred columbine and other social disasters.

    April 18, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pm Ohio

      I am sorry you feel so horrible, You should get therapy before your depression leads you to start being a sociopath. You seem to be able to still grasp the fact that you have a problem, so you can still probably do something about it before you hurt someone.

      April 18, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • April

      I'm sorry you feel that way and have been treated horribly. Just know there are some good people out there. I've met a few
      of them.

      April 18, 2012 at 20:25 | Report abuse |
    • towerungkiancamotau

      After being constantly harassed by the person I work with, I became you, Emil. Nothing seems real or sincere. The world stops spinning. God is fake because abusers like this one goes to church, believe in God. Mean people- a chip of the block.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:26 | Report abuse |
    • Deej59

      April's right. There are a lot of nice people out there. Sadly, though, I've reached a point (at age 52) where I don't give people the benefit of the doubt anymore. I always used to. I'd assume they were good people until they proved otherwise. I wish there hadn't been so many who soon proved themselves to be d-bags, because I just can't risk it anymore. Evil people are exhausting. I don't have room for them in my life anymore.

      April 18, 2012 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
    • puckles

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 18, 2012 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
  7. Terry

    Suddenly you see the need for Stand Your Ground Laws. People just got tired of being bullied by really mean people. Now those bullies get to meet the cousins – Smith and Wesson.

    April 18, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pm Ohio

      Terry, just the reason to not have a law like "stand your ground" so innocent people who pop off because they are having a bad day don't get thier lives cut short by idiots like you.

      April 18, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • jerkface

      Would someone mean please run pm Ohio over please? Thx 🙂

      April 18, 2012 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Harry's Watching

      People who need a gun because they can't defend themselves are cheating natural selection. Put your gun down and take your beating or run away.

      April 18, 2012 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
    • Deej59

      (Deej59 to Mission Control. Have found the troll nest. Have rescued the one good person there and left the area. Begin bombing run.)

      April 18, 2012 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      I like my T-shirt that says " People Like You are the Reason People like Me own Guns "

      April 19, 2012 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
  8. drowlord

    Interesting that they could take such a subjective set of concepts involving so many learned behaviors and correlate that to hard science. I'm inclined to doubt their methods, but since they appear to be using the scientific method faithfully, and returning predicted results, I guess it would be more intelligent to accept it.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Natalie Neilsen

    It's a whole lot easier to be politically incorrect..Just spew what ever comes to mind, and folow the pack..

    April 18, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Larry

    Being honest and being mean are close to the same thing. The difference is "mean" implies an intent to hurt, where as honesty is apathetic towards the other person.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Namit the shark

      that is totally wrong, when people truly become honest with eachother there will not be anyone mean, you probably think to be honest is to be mean because you must be a mean person, or most like are just a racist bigot

      April 18, 2012 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
    • Hwynd

      If someone is fat and ugly and they ask someone for their HONEST opinion and they say that they are fat and ugly; is that mean or honest or both?

      April 18, 2012 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
  11. Hunter

    You will attract what you think about. If you are afraid and think the world is full of meanies, then that's what you will have happen to you. Mean people use their meanness out of insecurity and low self esteem. So anytime you find yourself being mean you must ask yourself why you are so scared and think so low of yourself.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. truthfulgiant

    Nah, mean people aren't born that way. They were just raised by their Republican parents.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ponter B

    Like someone said, define "mean". A drug addict may consider you mean for pushing them into rehab, even though the action is actually beneficial to them.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Nick

    If you think someone's mean to you, you're probably the one that's wrong. 95% of the people I have to deal with on a daily basis are less intelligent than me and I'm tired of dealing with their moronic, boneheaded ways. My father always said while growing up (he is a smart person as well) "most people are stupid" and it's true. I'm talking about you.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tinto

    My natural inclination is to be the nice guy and to surround myself with people with calm, nice demeanors. Nothing more miserable or that changes my state of being than people who are mean without provocation or who cannot control their temperament.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. adibese

    These seem like skewed questions toward Liberal sheep. You have a duty to pay for services, but giving to a government may not necessarily be a good thing. I don't "do" charitable activities (after seeing the corruption going on), but I have helped many Individuals (real and tangible, not feel good). And people ARE born selfish (look at any child), but society SHOULD teach them to be courteous. What makes good and bad behavior then? You weren't BORN to rob a store, but you may have been born with less intelligence, laziness and a quick temper.

    April 18, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. julie

    Technically, we could all blame our upbringing/environment for our meanness if no genetics are to blame... Why else could we be a certain way if NOT genes OR environment causing it...?

    April 18, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. geogeo

    My theory based on experience is that mean people are MADE by parents who don't reprimand the kids when they hurt another kid or animal. Also, somebody can turn mean after being taken advantage of and swearing revenge on mankind.

    April 18, 2012 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. geogeo

    My theory based on experience is that mean people are MADE by parents who don't reprimand the kids when they hurt another kid or animal. Also, somebody can turn mean after being taken advantage of and swearing revenge on mankind.

    There is always a PHILOSOPHY behind meanness: other people deserve it because they are mean also, or they are too dumb to defend themselves and therefore deserve it.

    April 18, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Menthu

    Ahhhh blow me.

    April 18, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. podunda

    Mean people say they're born that way, but I think it's a choice.

    April 18, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Kay

    Some people just have cancer of the soul.

    April 18, 2012 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Maggie

    I do think a feeling of superiority plays a part. If a person has never been hurt because they are beautiful, think, rich, and everyone wants to be their friend then I believe they tend not to know or understand how hurtful they are being to others. It comes easy to them. This plus the fact that they never learn empathy as a child.

    April 18, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Garrett

    Really people!? DNA has almost everything to do with us both physically and mentally.. People can be condition to act a certain way... But the environment and everyone around them and their situation has to be consistent. If you sent people to go live in the wild with no upbringing of others, they will fall back onto their natural, born instincts or what the DNA is coded to execute the mind's mental mainframe. I hate that we try to make this delusional frame that behavioral patterns in DNA are only optional, because they are not. Some people can just snap out of no where and then be shaking like crazy cause they are scared of what they just done. They knew it was bad, yet they still did it. Course we have to say they are crazy and get them medical treatment or lock them up, how else could we deal with situations like that?

    April 18, 2012 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. marty

    How does this explain all teenage girls are mean – especially to each other ?

    April 18, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. holly

    Mean people are raised that way. They haven't been nurtured enough by their parents, or else they were spoiled and think the world owes them everything. Kids need affection, time, and to be taught responsibility very early on.

    April 18, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Celeste Billhartz

    I abhor rudeness, meanness ... where did that come from?? My natural parents ... a Catholic girl in love with a Protestant boy ... son of a Methodist minister ... or my adoptive parents' German Catholic upbringing? I think both. I had a good Catholic education and was never taught ... or rewarded for ... lying or meanness ... still, the reality of my life is this: my mother was lied to, told I died ... and my adoptive parents were sold an infant they could call their own. Shame on the Adoption Industry. Shame on it.

    April 18, 2012 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. corpsman

    This may end up supporting research done decades ago on authoritarianism (see Martin Seligman and later researchers). "Meaness," authoritarianism, close-mindedness (anti-progressive) and conservatism are all part of the same sphere of (now) pathological world view. Rooted in terror and hate, they likely played an important role in early human survival, but now are a cancer, fundamentally antisocial and eating away at those who believe/live this way and their victims.

    April 18, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. puckles

    So, according to this article, you are a "mean person" if you do not let the neighbor kids play in your yard?! This is ridiculous. I am a NICE person and I do not let the neighbor kids play in my yard. Are they contributing to my real estate taxes? NO Is my yard a public park? NO. Neighbor kids should stay in their OWN yards. This article is RIDICULOUS.

    April 18, 2012 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Keksi

    Is this about Mel Gibson again?

    April 18, 2012 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Emily

    I don't think people are born mean. I think people can be mean if they want to be.

    April 18, 2012 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. winstonsmith

    "If we were all nice people then there would be no conflict, and without conflict the world would be such a mundane place to live."

    This is, as usual, a completely dumb thing to say. (Am I being mean now?) Seriously, just idiotic. If nobody was mean (ie nobody actively ever tried to make someone else feel worse), we'd still have conflict. Disease would still exist. Mother nature would still cause disasters beyond imagination. Our technology would still fail us at times and kill people (cars crashing, planes breaking down, train accidents, etc.) Moreover, people would still be greedy... you can be ME ME ME and still not want to actively harm others. People would still steal for their own good. Wars would still happen over resources. People would still disagree over important topics not because they want to argue but because they have honestly different opinions.

    So no... using conflict is necessary as a reason to be mean is quite frankly idiotic to an offensive degree. It's scary that people think like this. The very fact that we can die means CONFLICT will always, always exist. Don't use stupid reasoning to make up for the fact that you're a cruel and/or sociopathic personality. I've had conflicts with my best friends and we never aim to hurt each other. Conflict comes with life.

    April 18, 2012 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Felmar

    I strongly acquiesced that individual's genetic make-up clearly defines his genotype and phenotype. Ergo, be careful in choosing your future partner. A partner having a socially-acceptable lineage.

    April 18, 2012 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. CommanderBill

    II don’t know if meanness has a genetic links but being a lefty certainly does. There is a preponderance of evidence to suggest left leaning is a mental illness with strong genetic links. The ability to do the same thing and fail at it over and over again and feel the best route is to do the same thing again is clearly a defective thinking process. Liberals tend to begot more liberals. The solution seems to be more abortions they are so fond of.

    April 18, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gremlinus

      At first I thought you mean left-handedness. Then I realized you were just being stupid.

      April 18, 2012 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
    • Mort

      I too thought he was talking about being left handed. I also was then struck by the stupid.
      Then I read your comment and lol'd.

      April 18, 2012 at 22:19 | Report abuse |
  35. oompa

    Study people as they deal with animals. Humans have zero gain by social standards because it is socially acceptable to like or dislike them. Even if people are not animal people it's easy to distinguish a nice vs mean reaction. The problem with using humans is that being nice to others like with charities is socially acceptable so it's hard to distinguish a truly nice person vs someone just doing it for approval from others. Interaction with animals will probably yield better results.

    April 18, 2012 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. gremlinus

    "Mean" is a relative term. It depends on how you define "mean." My students think I'm mean often. But I push them to do things (academic things!) they don't want to do because I want them to do well.....

    April 18, 2012 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. hyperboleman

    Well, it's perfectly evident then, that the world would be a better place if ol' Rush Limbaugh would have abused oxytocin instead of oxycontin. Badum, tssss!

    April 18, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. jfb

    yes we are born "that way" it is not a choice

    April 18, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. mahdeealoo

    Both innate and learned. Just one incident of mistrust or abuse can create a lifetime of anger and cruelty.

    April 18, 2012 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. nope1

    Now that we know now what ? Does it really matter why? .. All that matters is ... mean people suck !!

    April 18, 2012 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. toadears

    little boys are mean when their testosterone begins to give them stiffy's. Just like they all think they are funny, they all think they have something to prove. It's kind of a gay thing. They have to get other males to approve of them. Saltpeter in the world's common water supply would do wonders to stop war and mean people.

    April 18, 2012 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. God Bless America

    atheists/muslims/zionist jews are the only mean, rude and arrogant people

    April 18, 2012 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. editorpreston

    Reblogged this on prestonland.

    April 18, 2012 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Lloyd Christmas

    Mean people are a product of their environment.

    April 18, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. sssssssaaaaaayyyy wat?

    everyone has a choice .. be nice or be mean .. everyone knows right from wrong and for anyone say its because they're born that way its a lie and an excuse.. we all know ...

    April 18, 2012 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Somebody

    Confident people are more likely to be mean. Tall people are more likely to be confident. So height plays a big part in whether or not you are mean or nice. Tall people are generally meaner than short people.

    April 18, 2012 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. LeighVA

    My take on it would factor in one's own spirituality into everything else floating around out there.

    April 18, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. blinky

    Basically, what passes for social science nowadays is whatever scientists call science. For example, there are some staggering assumptions in this study as it is reported here. Take "nice" is "sociable." I don't especially see the connection. There are plenty of nice people who are also tightwads or selfish social climbers. There are also loners who are very nice. Likewise, meanness can make great teamwork, like playing football or waging a war. Some of the questions cited from the study are ludicrously open-ended, such as "Are people basically good or bad?" What the hay? Depending on your point of view, that question could have several widely different meanings, and could yield a "yes" or "no" from the same person just because it is so open to interpretation. This study seems to be very "soft" science, but based on what is presented in the CNN story I wouldn't dignify it as science at all.

    April 19, 2012 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hmmmm

      "Are People Basically Good Or Bad ?" People are basically life sucking leeches OH YEAH and There is no such thing as Gravity The Earth S–ucks

      April 19, 2012 at 00:12 | Report abuse |
  49. lucille

    I believe civility can be learned, and some cultures are better at teaching it than others.

    April 19, 2012 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Fiona

    So the author of this poorly written piece deems the person (probably childless, and therefore suspect) who doesn't want other people's kids playing on his property to be "mean"? Let me guess, Elizabeth...you are one of those self-absorbed mommies who thinks everyone should adore and induge her kids. Get over yourself. FYI, I am one of those people who doesn't want other people - kids or adults - trespassing on my property. It's called respect for privacy, dear, and respect for the rights of others. You should teach it to your kids. Far from being a "mean" person, I volunteer my time, donate generously, rescue animals in need, and help anyone who asks. But keep the frack off my property.

    April 19, 2012 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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