Draco, on the other hand, is an aloof, rude person who tends to be competitive and suspicious of others. He’s cynical about people – he doesn’t expect them to return favors, so he’s not that likely to be helpful. He thinks modesty is overrated.
How would personality psychology say these two differ? Well, they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum of “agreeableness” – if you feel more similar to Neville, you’re probably high in agreeableness, and if Draco hits closer to home, you’re probably relatively disagreeable. Agreeableness captures how interpersonally warm, trusting, modest, altruistic, cooperative, straightforward, sympathetic, and easygoing you are, and is one of the building blocks of personality.
So what does being agreeable mean for your work life and parenting styles? How about your health outcomes and environmental behavior? Let’s see what the literature has to say.
Getting along, not getting ahead: Agreeableness at work (Judge et al., 2012)
How agreeable people fare in the workplace fits the “nice guys finish last” mentality (as Juli has written about here before): in general, being more agreeable is associated with making less money. This could perhaps be explained by the nature of salary negotiation: being agreeable, modest, and compliant may hurt one’s ability to demand a higher salary.
On a related note, disagreeable folks are also more likely to have been fired in their lives, but spend no more time than agreeable people being unemployed, suggesting they somehow make up for their antagonistic interpersonal style when it comes to job-hunting (perhaps spinning their qualities as useful workplace attributes).
The Agreeable Parent (de Haan et al., 2012)
The Agreeable Physique (Sutin et al., 2011)
Well, for some reason disagreeable people tend to continue eating after they feel satiated, and exhibit more prolonged bodily responses to stressors, both of which are associated with more weight gain. Cumulatively, these behaviors and trends may contribute to the cardiovascular problems that plague antagonistic folks.
Agreeable Environmentalism (Milfont & Sibley, 2012)
The good news: Agreeableness across the lifespan (Srivastava et al., 2003)
So now we know that more agreeable people make warmer parents, have healthier weight trends, and are more environmentally inclined. But what happens to you, dear reader, if you identified with Draco’s (disagreeable) profile at the outset of this post? Well, besides making more money than your agreeable buddies, you may also find yourself becoming more agreeable as you get older…
Luckily, now that you know all the perks of being agreeable, you won’t think you’re merely losing your edge with your newfound sympathetic nature. Think of it instead as being beneficial for – if not your pocketbook – your family, your health, and your planet.de Haan, A., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2012). Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102 (1), 189-199 DOI: 10.1037/a0025254
Judge, T., Livingston, B., & Hurst, C. (2012). Do nice guys—and gals—really finish last? The joint effects of sex and agreeableness on income. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102 (2), 390-407 DOI: 10.1037/a0026021
Milfont, T., & Sibley, C. (2012). The big five personality traits and environmental engagement: Associations at the individual and societal level Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32 (2), 187-195 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2011.12.006
Srivastava, S., John, O., Gosling, S., & Potter, J. (2003). Development of personality in early and middle adulthood: Set like plaster or persistent change? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (5), 1041-1053 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1241
Sutin, A., Ferrucci, L., Zonderman, A., & Terracciano, A. (2011). Personality and obesity across the adult life span. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101 (3), 579-592 DOI: 10.1037/a0024286