New research shows that men are not just motivated by money, but also by how much more or less they earn than their colleagues. Traditional thinking was that men were only interested in the size of their pay packets. New findings from a study at the University of Bonn reveal that men are also concerned about how much their peers are getting. The research is published in this month’s edition of the journal Science. Researchers put 38 male volunteers under the microscope. The men had to perform simple tasks so that scientists could analyse the activity in the “reward centre” in their brain. They played a game in which they received payments depending on how well they did. They were also told how much money the other men were getting. The researchers discovered a lot more brain activity with the men who knew they were beating their rivals.
Lead scientist Dr Bernd Weber said he now wants to conduct a similar study on women. He wants to gauge whether they too are motivated by their peers’ earnings and not just individual success. It is not yet clear how the new findings will affect the workplace. There is a possibility that worker productivity could increase with the introduction of a system that created competition. Sales staff have long been in competition with each other to win bonuses. Human resource officers may now look at this research to find ways of bringing a sense of competitiveness to offices and perhaps schools. However, this may have a negative impact in the workplace if rivalries turn sour with jealousy. One company CEO, Jackie Baxter said: “It’s a balancing act between keeping harmony in the office and encouraging workers to be more efficient.”