The three kinds of people you’ll see everywhere, even in yourself

Connected (The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives) by Christakis and Fowler provides interesting ideas on the advantages and disadvantages of being the central node of a large network of friends and how your friends’ friends could influence your weight gain or loss, of all things.

It is sometimes interesting to see your place in the world according to other people’s classifications. Christakis and Fowler’s classification provided some food for thought. They classify people as co-operators, free riders and punishers. Some people collaborate to build shelters, for example. Some people appear to be helping to build the shelter but do not really do anything. Some people tell last-mentioned people to get off their bums and start helping.

Of course, we all want to think of ourselves as the collaborative kind, because free rider and punisher both carry negative connotations.

Unfortunately for me, I recognised myself in this sentence:

Some people honk when a car cuts them off in traffic, even though the honk does not change the outcome.

The Punisher.

So NOW I choose to believe that we all have the potential to be any one of these three kinds of people depending on the situation we are in. I am certainly able to co-operate, just as I am able to go along for the ride without contributing anything myself. And I will most certainly be honking if you cut in before me.


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