What is a jerk exactly?
“People who culpably fail to appreciate the perspectives of the people around them, treating others as tools to be manipulated or fools to be dealt with.” That’s according to Eric Schwitzgebel, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Riverside, who explained the traits of a jerk to Nautilus.
A jerk, he said, is “ignorant of the value of others, ignorant of the merit of their ideas and plans, dismissive of their desires and beliefs.”
He said the opposite is a “sweetheart,” a person “habitually alert to the needs and interests of others [and] solicitous of others’ thoughts and preferences.”
We all know both, (and Eric argues we all are both), but that true jerks have overwhelming parts of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathic personality.
“Jerks see the world through goggles that dim others’ humanity,” the report says. “The server at the restaurant is not a potentially interesting person with a distinctive personality, life story, and set of goals to which you might possibly relate. Instead, he is merely a tool by which to secure a meal or a fool on which you can vent your anger. The people ahead of you at Starbucks are faceless and of no account. Those beneath you in the social hierarchy lack your talents and deserve to get the scut work.”
You know, the bad date who is rude to the waiter—yes, he or she is a jerk.
“Probably no one is pure jerk or pure sweetheart,” the reports says. “Several decades of psychological research confirm that, when it comes to big, broad personality traits, pretty much everyone is mixed and complex and subject to a variety of shifting influences. But where specifically are you on the spectrum from jerk to sweetheart, and in what respects, in what situations, toward which people? Maybe nothing is more central to your moral character than your degree of jerkitude. It is your basic moral comportment toward the people around you.”
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