Would You Help a Friend Who Is Sick? How About One Who's Unemployed?

Here's an interesting thought.  If your friend were sick, would you help him?  What about if he was unemployed?

If you'd only be willing to help where illness is concerned, join the crowd.  A new study says that, though illness and unemployment are two types of ordinary risks to which we are all exposed, from a historical perspective, unemployment and illness represent two very different types of risks. Unemployment came about as a result of industrialization, while illness is something the human species has faced for millions of years. This difference is reflected in current-day political attitudes, according to newswise.com.

Why do people generally prefer helping the ill and not the unemployed?" This is the question posed by two professors in political science, Carsten Jensen and Michael Bang Petersen, from Aarhus University.

Using techniques to uncover people's implicit intuitions, the researchers explored the fundamental differences behind our attitudes towards unemployment benefits and healthcare. According to the researchers, the differences may be found in the evolutionary history of our species.

"For millions of years, a need for health care reflected accidents such as broken legs or random infections. Evolution could therefore have built our psychology to think about illnesses in this way, as something we have no control over. People everywhere seem to have this deep-seated intuition that ill people are unfortunate and deserve to be helped," Michael Bang Petersen explains.

Now, for the unemployed.  I've been unemployed twice in my life and it's very unpleasant, partly because many people assume it was your own fault.  

Because we have this psychological tendency to regard people who are ill as unlucky, people's attitudes towards those who are unemployed -- not considered a matter of luck -- are much more, well, ungenerous.

"When it comes to healthcare, everyone seem united in the belief that people who are ill are unlucky and need help," say researchers. But we pretty much deeply disagree on whether or not unemployed people deserve help, they found, and that's why we tend to support ill friends over those who are just unemployed.


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