Andy’s Quick Hits (179): Agreeableness — a trait for general success in life

Andy Hab
2 min readMar 11, 2022

“Nice people finish last” is a saying that some people, presumably non-nice people, may believe is true. However, in recent years the research into collective cooperation seems to show the opposite — that cooperation and collaboration is king and that the most cooperative and collaborative finish first.

We are after all social creatures, and have developed in social groups, so being a selfish arse is probably not going to be beneficial and all societies have norms and ways to punish these people. However, collaboration is one thing and being nice, or agreeable, as personality science calls it, is another.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas summarized the results from 142 meta-analyses reporting effects on 275 variables. This includes data from 1.9 million participants and about 3,900 studies. Not bad — that is one mega meta-meta-analysis.

What did Wilmot and Ones, the authors, find? They found that agreeableness had a desirable effect on 93% of variables and outcomes. These 275 different outcomes included physical, psychological, and occupational metrics. Metrics that not only impact workplace performance but life success in general.

So, there you have it. According to science nice people finish first (and are happier and healthier to boot)!

Michael P. Wilmot, Deniz S. Ones.
Agreeableness and Its Consequences: A Quantitative Review of Meta-Analytic Findings.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2022; 108886832110730
DOI: 10.1177/10888683211073007

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Andy Hab

Sharing fascinating, fun, and important knowledge on the brain and human behaviour - most days. And masters track athlete - still going strong!