Agreeable people tend to be kinder and more accommodating in social situations, which you might think could add to their success in life. However, one downside of agreeableness is potentially lower earnings. Research has shown the answer to this and other puzzles; some of them may surprise you. First, and perhaps most obvious, agreeable individuals are less adept at a type of negotiation called distributive bargaining. As we discuss in Chapter 14, distributive bargaining is less about creating win–win solutions and more about claiming as large a share of the pie as possible. Because salary negotiations are generally distributive, agreeable individuals often negotiate lower salaries for themselves than they might otherwise get. Second, agreeable individuals may choose to work in
industries or occupations that earn lower salaries, such as the “caring” industries of education and health care. Agreeable individuals are also attracted to jobs both in the public sector and in nonprofit organizations. Third, the earnings of agreeable individuals also may be reduced by their lower drive to emerge as leaders and by their tendency to engage in lower degrees of proactive task behaviors,
such as coming up with ways to increase organizational effectiveness. While being agreeable certainly doesn’t appear to help your paycheck, it does provide other benefits. Agreeable individuals are better liked at work, more likely to help others at work, and generally happier at work and in life. Nice guys and gals may finish last in terms of earnings, but wages do not define a happy life, and on that front,
agreeable individuals have the advantage.
5-14. Do you think employers must choose between agreeable employees and top performers? Why or why not?
5-15. Research seems to suggest that agreeable individuals make fairly poor managers and decision-makers. Why might this be the case? What are the implications for organizations? How does this affect their earning potential?
5-16. Agreeable individuals tend to be attracted to specific types of occupations and follow different
career paths. What has research indicated in this respect? What are the implications and where are
you more likely to find agreeable employees?
Sources: T. A. Judge, B. A. Livingston, and C. Hurst, “Do Nice Guys—and Gals—Really Finish Last?
The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
102 (2012): 390–407; J. B. Bernerth, S. G. Taylor, H. J. Walker, and D. S. Whitman, “An Empirical
Investigation of Dispositional Antecedents and Performance-Related Outcomes of Credit Scores,”
Journal of Applied Psychology 97 (2012): 469–78; J. Carpenter, D. Doverspike, and R. F. Miguel, “Public Service Motivation as a Predictor of Attraction to the Public Sector,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 80 (2012): 509–23; and A. Neal, G. Yeo, A. Koy, and T. Xiao, “Predicting the Form and Direction of Work Role Performance from the Big 5 Model of Personality Traits,” Journal of Organizational Behavior 33 (2012): 175–92.