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Matthew Effect

Category
Adage, Anecdote, Metaphor
Also Known As...
Matthew Principle
Matthew Effect

Definition

The old adage "for to him who has, will more be given…" — that those with existing status, privilege, wealth, etc. stand to benefit even more from it, compared to those without starting resources. In other words,"the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Origin

The concept derives from the biblical story of the Parable of the Talents (in the book of Matthew), and the modern usage of the term was coined by sociologists Robert K. Merton and sociologist Harriet Zuckerman in 1968.(source)

Everyday Use

This one isn't just about rolling our eyes at the "30 Under 30" lists where the recipients have clearly been nudged by generational gifts and resources. From a daily life perspective, we can use the Matthew Effect to serve our own ends — where our good habits, intentions, and daily acts can build on themselves in a similar way of compounding interest.