The Agreeableness Dimension of Personality
In Big Five theory, Agreeableness describes how we prioritize our own interests against the needs of others. People who score high in Agreeableness are comfortable putting others’ needs before their own and value getting along well with others. People who score lower in Agreeableness are less concerned with helping and caring for others.
Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own, and to cooperate rather than compete with others. People who are high in Agreeableness experience a great deal of empathy and tend to get pleasure out of serving and taking care of others. They are usually trusting and forgiving.
People who are low in Agreeableness tend to experience less empathy and put their own concerns ahead of others. Low scorers are often described as hostile, competitive, and antagonistic. They tend to have more conflictual relationships and often fall out with people.
Agreeableness is obviously advantageous for attaining and maintaining popularity. Agreeable people are better liked than disagreeable people. On the other hand, agreeableness is not useful in situations that require tough or absolute objective decisions. Disagreeable people can make excellent scientists, critics, or soldiers.
What Does High Agreeableness Look Like?
People who are higher in Agreeableness have a heightened capacity for getting along well with others, being helpful, and displaying emotional sensitivity and intelligence.
Agreeable people tend to do well in social and professional settings because of their helpful nature, interest in cooperation, and ability to de-escalate conflict. They typically form friendships easily because they are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and slow to form judgments. Careers involving relationship building, caring for those in need, and counseling tend to attract highly Agreeable people.
Agreeable people tend to be emotionally perceptive, empathetic, and altruistic. They are naturally helpful, and because they feel the needs and pain of others deeply, they are compelled to act. Though their intentions are good, this tendency can at times manifest in the form of dependence or an inability to say no.
Highly Agreeable people may struggle to assert their own needs and preferences. While people who score high for Agreeableness are often well liked by coworkers, Agreeableness is negatively correlated with income and professional status. Highly Agreeable people may focus more on helping others, and neglect to chart their own course.
What Does Low Agreeableness Look Like?
People who are low in Agreeableness are less likely to get along with others, trust others, or be sympathetic to the needs of those around them. They tend to be less moved by their emotions or perceptive to the needs of others, though they may still feel an instinct to care for close loved ones.
Those who are low in Agreeableness are often suspicious of other people and their motives. Their skepticism about human nature means others rarely get the best of them. However, they may struggle in situations where teamwork is essential, as they expect others will be as self-interested as they are.
In the workplace, people who are low in Agreeableness often excel because of their single-minded ambition. They are often drawn to careers involving power such as law, politics, armed forces, security, and law enforcement. Tasks involving collaboration can be frustrating to them, as they naturally strive to get ahead rather than cooperate.
People who are low in Agreeableness aren’t afraid to hold an unpopular view. They tend to be unmoved by other people’s perceptions and thus have the freedom to act in accordance with their own convictions.