You know those goody-two-shoes who volunteer for every task and thanklessly take on the annoying details nobody else wants to deal with?
That's right: Other people really can't stand them.
Four separate studies led by a Washington State University social psychologist have found that unselfish workers who are the first to throw their hat in the ring are also among those that coworkers most want to, in effect, vote off the island.
"It's not hard to find examples but we were the first to show this happens and have explanations for why," said Craig Parks, lead author of "The Desire to Expel Unselfish Members from the Group" in the current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The phenomenon has implications for business work groups, volunteer organizations, non-profit projects, military units, and environmental efforts, an interest of Parks' coauthor and former PhD student, Asako Stone.
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.