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Agreeableness

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Agreeableness is a personality trait in which there is tendency to be pleasant and accommodating in social situations. In contemporary personality psychology, agreeableness is one of the five major dimensions of personality structure, reflecting individual differences in concern for cooperation and social harmony. People who score high on this dimension are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and generally likable. They also have an optimistic view of human nature. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy.

People scoring low on agreeableness place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally less concerned with others' well-being, and therefore less likely to go out of their way to help others. Sometimes their skepticism about others' motives causes them to be suspicious and unfriendly. People very low on agreeableness have a tendency to be manipulative in their social relationships. They are more likely to compete than to cooperate.

Agreeableness is considered to be a superordinate trait, meaning that it is a grouping of more specific personality traits that cluster together statistically. There are exceptions, but in general, people who are concerned about others also tend to cooperate with them, help them out, and trust them. This model of personality is based on research using the method of factor analysis. Studies indicate that the trait is distributed on a bell curve, with relatively uncommon extreme scores, and many people scoring in between.


Interpersonal relations

Agreeableness may be an asset for achieving and maintaining popularity. Agreeable people are typically more popular than disagreeable people. Those who are high in agreeableness are more likely to use constructive tactics when in conflict with others, whereas people low in agreeableness are more likely to use coercive tactics (Jensen-Campbell & Graziano, 2001). There is no evidence that highly agreeable people are more conforming, or influenced more by others in making choices, than are their peers. On the other hand, during conflict, people high in agreeableness are more willing to give ground to their adversary and most "lose" arguments with people who are less agreeable than themselves. From their perspective, they have not really lost an argument as much as maintained a positive relationship with another person. It would seem that these people can be taken advantage of when they are too trusting, but the evidence (to date) does not tell us how people high in agreeableness deal with long-term conflict or chronically argumentative people. Also this kind of people suffer from pre-requisite notion of a particular topic or a person or entity or body or organisation.

Implications

Where psychopathology is concerned, high agreeableness is associated with dependency, whereas low agreeableness is associated with narcissistic and anti-social tendencies (Costa & McCrae, 1992).

Agreeableness can be viewed as the opposite of the trait of machiavellianism. It is also similar to Alfred Adler's idea of social interest.



See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts

Books

  • Costa, P. T. & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO personality Inventory professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Papers

  • Jensen-Campbell, L. A., & Graziano, W. G. (2001). Agreeableness as a moderator of interpersonal conflict. Journal of Personality, 69, 323- 361.

Additional material

Books

Papers

External links

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