Nicholas Lezard: At least nice guys like me are luckier in love

I tend now only to work for those nice left-leaning publications which pay you in hugs and sweet smiles

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Well, it's official – sort of: the nicer you are, the less you earn. It's as simple as that. This works more for men than for women, as women are already nicer, I suppose. They might be in positions of seniority, but (and it really seems to be this simple) they don't fight for pay rises as much.

I wonder, though, whether the researchers considered whether they are not confusing cause and effect. It could also be the case not just that disagreeable people get paid more because they are disagreeable, but that earning more money makes you more disagreeable. This would certainly explain not only why I seem to have become much nicer as the years have gone by, but why the higher-paid members of my profession are not people you'd like to spend much time in a lift with. I tend now only to work for those nice left-leaning publications which pay you in hugs and sweet smiles rather than anything that might be considered meaningful cash. Whereas consider the rightward and increasingly scary trajectory of – ooh, shall we say Melanie Phillips? – who started out as a Guardian herbivore and now, like Bertie Wooster's aunt Agatha, eats broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.

Those of us, among men, who are poor but nice can comfort themselves with this thought: we're much more attractive to women. Which is why Richard Branson is always dressing up as one. It's the nearest he can get.

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