The old trope has it that while bullies make your life hell during your years in school, once you’re all grown up and in the world, the bullies’ targets all become successful and self-assured while the bullies themselves wind up in crappy, dead-end jobs, miserable and full of regret and self-loathing.
Researchers at Duke say, “Enhanced social status seems to have a biological advantage.” You don’t say. Apparently it has something to do with inflammation:
In adults, a high social status, including income or education level, is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers, the researchers wrote.
“The finding of lower increases in [c-reactive protein] levels for pure bullies into adulthood is novel,” the researchers said, adding that previous work tended to focus on the those who struggled through adversity.
Meanwhile, we bullying targets, the future-Bill-Gateses of the world, have a different fate.
I had always been skeptical of the bullies-are-doomed myth, which I know is uttered primarily to give the bullied a small sense of hope or justice, but rings incredibly hollow. Whatever the ugly motivations for bullying, the results are pretty much the same: the asshole gets to feel even better about himself than he did before. They get a little burst of confidence, validation, and a sense of superiority. Presuming they are not also getting bullied themselves (by peers, parents, what have you), it’s hard to see how bullying wouldn’t help them with their well-being into adulthood.