The old saying "nice guys finish last" was put to the test at the University of Guelph.
Those participating in a study were given money, and instructed to either put it into a pot to benefit everyone, or keep the cash for themselves.
Patrick Barclay, a psychology professor at the university, says those same people were then allowed to pay to make others lose money.
Under the baseline, the lower contributors saw most of the punishment but the higher contributors saw punishment too.
When participants were told the highest contributor would get rewarded, it fueled some competition and the higher contributors started getting punished more.
Barclay says it's the same idea in the workplace.
If someone is looked down on or criticized for working too hard, it could impact productivity as those people may not feel as motivated to continue working hard.
But if there's a reward like a promotion, he says those same people may accept some grumbling around the office.