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Arrogant people less likely to lend a hand

Heather Rudow December 30, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/NZ Defence Force)

If you’re stuck in a bind and need someone’s help, you should cross your fingers that the first person you come across is a humble one. According to newly published research in the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who are humble are more likely to help others than those who have arrogant personalities.

“The findings are surprising because in nearly 30 years of research on helping behavior, very few studies have shown any effect of personality variables on helping,” said lead author Jordan LaBouff. “The only other personality trait that has shown any effect is agreeableness, but we found that humility predicted helping over and above that.”

Co-author Wade Rowatt said that in most cases, whether a person chooses to lend a hand to someone depends on temporary factors, such as how long it will take them to help, the number of people around them or any feelings of empathy they might have.

“The research indicates that humility is a positive quality with potential benefits,” Rowatt said. “While several factors influence whether people will volunteer to help a fellow human in need, it appears that humble people, on average, are more helpful than individuals who are egotistical or conceited.”

The research was comprised of three studies involving college students and touched on subjects such as what personality traits they would define themselves as (including humble) and hypothetical situations in which the students were asked to lend a hand, like helping an injured student to class.

“Our discovery here is that the understudied trait of humility predicts helpfulness,” Rowatt said. “Important next steps will be to figure out whether humility can be cultivated and if humility is beneficial in other contexts, such as scientific and medical advancements or leadership development.”

Source: PsychCentral

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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