A new study on behavior has revealed that the most common personality type in humans is being envious - or someone who just wants to do better than their peers, irrespective of the outcome.
The study which was carried out by scientists at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and was published in the Science Advances journal, monitored how participants reacted when faced with a dilemma.
"Those involved are asked to participate in pairs, these pairs change, not only in each round, but also each time the game changes. Depending on the partner, the best option could be to cooperate or, on the other hand, to oppose or betray. In this way, we can obtain information about what people do in very different social situations," one of the authors of the study Anxo Sánchez from the Carlos III University of Madrid, explains.
The 541 volunteers were introduced to various social dilemmas with options leading to cooperation or conflict with others.
After the experiment, the researchers developed a computer algorithm, which was able to classify the results into these four personality types.
Optimists, pessimists and the trusting type make up 20% of the sample population each, while envious people made up 30%. The remaining 10% of people were unable to be defined.
Optimists believe that they and their partner will make the best choice for both of them, pessimists select the option which they see as the lesser of two evils, and the trusting group are born collaborators that will always cooperate and wont mind if they win or lose.
The envious group don't actually mind what they achieve, as long as they're better than everyone else.
Another author, Yamir Moreno said "The results go against certain theories; the one which states that humans act purely rationally for example, and, therefore, they should be taken into consideration in redesigning social and economic policies, as well as those involved in cooperation. These types of studies are important because they improve existing theories on human behavior by giving them an experimental base."
This suggests that people are not as rational as theory may predict and some may renounce cooperation to claim individual satisfaction. The researchers believe their results can shed a new light on the mechanisms that drive the collective or individual interest in the processes of negotiation. They could be considered to improve management of business or political reform.