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Personality and High Agreeableness

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#1
Why would we want to understand anything about personality? Well we view and interact with the world through our personalities. By understanding our personalities and the personalities of others, we're less likely to meet disappointment and it's more likely that our plans will come to fruition. It's useful to know what our traits are because it helps us figure out how to orient our lives.

By far the greatest range of diversity among people is with regards to personality, and within psychology, there's this idea of the necessity for personality differences. We wouldn't have the entire range of human personality that we do unless there were specific instances, and perhaps sometimes not so specific, where a particular personality trait, or set of personality traits, were exactly the solution to the problem emerging at the time.

Contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits and referred to by the acronym OCEAN: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

in particular, I'd like to address the trait the agreeableness.

From The Agreeableness Dimension of Personality:

"Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own, and to cooperate rather than compete with others.

What Does High Agreeableness Look Like?

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.

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.

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 Low Agreeableness Look Like?

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.

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."

Where things can get complicated is for someone who is both high in agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Very often, large corporations run on the unheralded labour of people who are both high in agreeableness and high conscientiousness, and they're disproportionately women. In large institutions and companies, if you want to hire someone to exploit productively, you hire middle aged women who are hyper conscientious and also agreeable. Because they'll do everything, they won't take credit for it and they'll never complain. That may seem callous but it happens all the time. So for anyone who is very agreeable, it's important not to not line up to be exploited. People are wired to be exploited by infants; it ensures their survival. But that doesn't work so well in the professional world. People high in agreeableness often find it very difficult to negotiate on their behalf. Agreeable people do not like conflict. They'll suffer anything but conflict. However, this an essential skill agreeable people need to become adept at so as not to be completely trodden on. There simply are things that just need to be brought up and spoken up for because they are not going away. The challenge here also is that agreeable people are so accustomed to living for other people, they often don't even know what they themselves want. You ask a disagreeable person what they want, they'll tell you straight away and tell you how they're going to get it too.

For people who are high in agreeableness, getting comfortable with being assertive is an important so as not to be exploited:

1. Make the decision to positively assert yourself. Commit to being assertive rather than passive or aggressive.

2. Aim for open and honest communication. It's important to respect other people when sharing your feelings, wants, needs, beliefs or opinions but equally, it's important that you are heard along these lines too.

3. Listen actively. Understand the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt when they are explaining it to you. This demonstrates that you are reasonable & in control of your emotions.

4. Agree to disagree. Remember that having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong.

5. Avoid guilt trips. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want without making accusations or making them feel guilty.

6. Stay calm. Breathe normally, look the person in the eye, keep your face relaxed and speak in a normal voice.

7. Take a problem-solving approach to conflict. Try to see the other person as your friend not your enemy.

8. Practice assertiveness. Talk in an assertive way in front of a mirror or with a friend. Pay attention to your body language as well as to the words you say.

9. Use ‘I’. Stick with statements that include ‘I’ in them such as ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Don’t use aggressive language such as ‘you always’ or ‘you never’.

10. Be patient. Again, being assertive is a skill that needs practice. Remember that you will sometimes do better at it than at other times, but you can always learn from your mistakes.

is this something anyone here can relate to or currently struggles with?
 

Gonz

sick and tired of being sick and tired
#3
I have an Aunt who would definitely be considered to have too much agreeableness in her personality. Everyone adores her, but she definitely sets herself up to get walked all over due to her fear of conflict.

Aside from unproductively starting fights with those we feel are taking advantage of her good nature, I wonder what else other people can do to help.

It's bedtime for me, but commenting so I can come back to this later. Every time I've taken that test I always score high on agreeableness, which would surprise no one who knows me, haha.
Good to know; now go do something really inconvenient for me that I will neglect to thank you for.
 

EmB

Absolute Peach!
#4
Every time I've taken this test, I've scored highest with agreeableness. I think the only thing I don't do that you've listed is make friends easily - but that's my own shyness and anxiety.

I used to struggle very much, not necessarily being taken advantage of (although I had been in relationships particularly) but with assertiveness and confidence, too. I put myself in a role where I had to be assertive - not hostile, or I wouldn't be liked, and not passive, or I wouldn't be listened to, both of which were essential to avoid if I wanted to do the job right. It definitely helped me learn how to grasp it better. I struggled a lot with even knowing how to be assertive and I think your end list is very useful. I still struggle sometimes (as my partner points out every now and again) but I think I'm better at recognising when I need to take a step back.

I also wonder about the negative correlation with pay. People who are agreeable are driven to caring professions, so perhaps it's also the kind of job they're seeking, as a lot of "caring" professions (teaching, counselling, nursing, social work) aren't the best in terms of pay, particularly if you compare them to your low agreeableness jobs of lawyer, politician, CEOs.

Interesting topic :)

Sending hugs
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#5
Every time I've taken this test, I've scored highest with agreeableness. I think the only thing I don't do that you've listed is make friends easily - but that's my own shyness and anxiety.

I used to struggle very much, not necessarily being taken advantage of (although I had been in relationships particularly) but with assertiveness and confidence, too. I put myself in a role where I had to be assertive - not hostile, or I wouldn't be liked, and not passive, or I wouldn't be listened to, both of which were essential to avoid if I wanted to do the job right. It definitely helped me learn how to grasp it better. I struggled a lot with even knowing how to be assertive and I think your end list is very useful. I still struggle sometimes (as my partner points out every now and again) but I think I'm better at recognising when I need to take a step back.

I also wonder about the negative correlation with pay. People who are agreeable are driven to caring professions, so perhaps it's also the kind of job they're seeking, as a lot of "caring" professions (teaching, counselling, nursing, social work) aren't the best in terms of pay, particularly if you compare them to your low agreeableness jobs of lawyer, politician, CEOs.

Interesting topic :)

Sending hugs
Thanks for your reply, EmB.

It's true that high agreeableness is a significant contributory factor in what people call the "Wage Gap". There are other factors too although gender discrimination may play be some part of it, It's not all down to sexism and the evils of the patriarchy. It requires a multivariate analysis and Just to mention a couple of factors to take into account, men are more likely to take the more dangerous jobs which have a higher earning power. Women are more likely to choose careers that pay less and are not scalable, such as the caring professions you mention. And certainly people high in agreeableness, which on average tend to be women, also mean that such people are less willing to be assertive & negotiate on their behalf for a better deal.
 

EmB

Absolute Peach!
#6
Thanks for your reply, EmB.

It's true that high agreeableness is a significant contributory factor in what people call the "Wage Gap". There are other factors too although gender discrimination may play be some part of it, It's not all down to sexism and the evils of the patriarchy. It requires a multivariate analysis and Just to mention a couple of factors to take into account, men are more likely to take the more dangerous jobs which have a higher earning power. Women are more likely to choose careers that pay less and are not scalable, such as the caring professions you mention. And certainly people high in agreeableness, which on average tend to be women, also mean that such people are less willing to be assertive & negotiate on their behalf for a better deal.
Oh yes, super interesting! I wonder about the other traits and their relationship to the wage gap both alongside high agreeableness and isolated. If you know more I'd love to hear! I also wonder about those who are highly agreeable but then vary hugely on other factors. How would someone who is highly agreeable, introverted, unopen to experience, and neurotic compare to highly agreeable but extroverted, open to experience, and stable? We have a seminar on the big 5 tomorrow so I may ask some questions related to this - if I do, I'll bring back some info :D I'd love to hear your opinion!

Sending hugs
 

Sunspots

Pffffeckn amazin
Safety & Support
SF Supporter
#7
Really interesting topic. I'd never heard of the 'Big 5' before or agreeableness as a trait. I'd always just considered myself to be pretty passive. I've just taken 3 of these tests and unsurprisingly I scored extremely high in all of them.

I'm diagnosed with Avoidant and Dependant Personality Disorders and many of the traits there overlap with agreeableness. I absolutely hate any kind of conflict. Even when it doesn't even directly involve me, if it's happening near me, if I can hear or see it, it scares me. I will do anything to avoid it. When I had my own business I employed 21 members of staff. I was so desperate to be liked by them. I made an excellent boss but a shit business woman. Keeping them all happy while singlehandedly running a successful and expanding business ended up playing a not insignificant part in my breakdown three years ago.

When I'm with a friend and they ask where we should go for lunch or what film shall we go to see my answer is always "I don't mind, you choose".

It's something I've been working on in therapy and I've made some decent progress with it this year both in my personal life and out of it. I even sent back a steak that wasn't cooked right in a restaurant a few weeks ago - something I'd never have done before. And in my marriage, I've finally been able to tell him what I need and that if I don't get it, our marriage is over.

It's a really interesting subject. One thing that hasn't been explained clearly is does the agreeableness not count if someone secretly resents it?
 

bag_of_struggles

Well-Known Member
#8
I'm mad highly agreeable. Much to my detriment. I literally struggle with everything on that list and can't stomach the thought that there are people in the world that dislike. Not that I go out of my way to make people like me, like I don't want to or need to be everyone's friend, but I at least need to remain innocuous enough to not incur other people's disdain. Therefore I don't assert myself in order to fly under the radar.

I can assert myself but only if necessary and then I tend to feel bad about if for days.

Also I've been told I'm great at guilting people into things.

It's a main reason I want to work alone (like Batman) because working with others can be so emotionally draining for me. If I would work by myself I wouldn't have to be so conscious of what others thought of me.
 

Legate Lanius

Try not to kill yourself 2020 challenge.
#9
There are facets of each five, how you rank in those will vary but you'll see a tendency and a lot of overlap.


For example: I am DANGEROUSLY low in ALL of the extraversion facets, VERY HIGH in ALL of the neuroticism facets, but a mixed bag when it comes to the other three. In agreeableness I am super high in being straight-forward, but very low in compliance and tender-mindedness. In conscientiousness I am very low on all fronts except for deliberation and order, which are higher than average. In openness I am low in everything except for ideas and maybe values.

Great thread, thanks.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#10
Every time I've taken this test, I've scored highest with agreeableness. I think the only thing I don't do that you've listed is make friends easily - but that's my own shyness and anxiety.

I used to struggle very much, not necessarily being taken advantage of (although I had been in relationships particularly) but with assertiveness and confidence, too. I put myself in a role where I had to be assertive - not hostile, or I wouldn't be liked, and not passive, or I wouldn't be listened to, both of which were essential to avoid if I wanted to do the job right. It definitely helped me learn how to grasp it better. I struggled a lot with even knowing how to be assertive and I think your end list is very useful. I still struggle sometimes (as my partner points out every now and again) but I think I'm better at recognising when I need to take a step back.

I also wonder about the negative correlation with pay. People who are agreeable are driven to caring professions, so perhaps it's also the kind of job they're seeking, as a lot of "caring" professions (teaching, counselling, nursing, social work) aren't the best in terms of pay, particularly if you compare them to your low agreeableness jobs of lawyer, politician, CEOs.

Interesting topic :)

Sending hugs
It sounds like you're quite in touch with this side of yourself, and how it influences your own personal life experiences. As with anything, that's the all important first step.

Any trait that is built into our personalities will always be a challenge to modify. Periodically finding yourself struggling with any type of reconfiguration is to be expected so all we can do is accept that as part of the process. I'm extremely low on both agreeableness and neuroticism and that also has its challenges. In my own life, I've experienced a significant amount of interpersonal strife but from the other end of the spectrum. We are who we are at the end of the day, but with some self-awareness and commitment I think it is possible to turn things around to a degree, and when the situation calls for it. Easier said than done, of course, but most worthwhile changes in life are.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#11
Oh yes, super interesting! I wonder about the other traits and their relationship to the wage gap both alongside high agreeableness and isolated. If you know more I'd love to hear! I also wonder about those who are highly agreeable but then vary hugely on other factors. How would someone who is highly agreeable, introverted, unopen to experience, and neurotic compare to highly agreeable but extroverted, open to experience, and stable? We have a seminar on the big 5 tomorrow so I may ask some questions related to this - if I do, I'll bring back some info :D I'd love to hear your opinion!

Sending hugs
I would imagine someone high in agreeableness, low on extraversion, low on openness, and high on neuroticism would find extreme difficulty making friends & establishing themselves in the world. Due to the other traits, when they do, form any relationship, they may find themselves becoming reliant and being highly agreeable, submitting to the all the whims of the other person. Having a narrow range of interests(low openness) coupled with an overall tendency toward negative emotions(high neuroticism)also means they may pass up opportunities to try new things and this can further add to feelings of loneliness and isolation. On the other hand, high on agreeableness, high on extraversion, high on openness, and low on neuroticism strikes me more as the social butterfly type, willing to engage people who may hold a multitude of contrary opinions and respecting all of them. This can sometimes be considered "fence-sitting" in order to keep the peace with everyone but rarely would they lead solitary lives.

I'd be interested to hear what came out of your seminar & hope you share.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#12
Really interesting topic. I'd never heard of the 'Big 5' before or agreeableness as a trait. I'd always just considered myself to be pretty passive. I've just taken 3 of these tests and unsurprisingly I scored extremely high in all of them.

I'm diagnosed with Avoidant and Dependant Personality Disorders and many of the traits there overlap with agreeableness. I absolutely hate any kind of conflict. Even when it doesn't even directly involve me, if it's happening near me, if I can hear or see it, it scares me. I will do anything to avoid it. When I had my own business I employed 21 members of staff. I was so desperate to be liked by them. I made an excellent boss but a shit business woman. Keeping them all happy while singlehandedly running a successful and expanding business ended up playing a not insignificant part in my breakdown three years ago.

When I'm with a friend and they ask where we should go for lunch or what film shall we go to see my answer is always "I don't mind, you choose".

It's something I've been working on in therapy and I've made some decent progress with it this year both in my personal life and out of it. I even sent back a steak that wasn't cooked right in a restaurant a few weeks ago - something I'd never have done before. And in my marriage, I've finally been able to tell him what I need and that if I don't get it, our marriage is over.

It's a really interesting subject. One thing that hasn't been explained clearly is does the agreeableness not count if someone secretly resents it?
Thanks for your reply Sunspots.

It's sounds like you certainly have made some progress, and not exactly trivial either. As I said in an earlier reply, personality traits are very much a part of us, and how we interact with the world. They're firmly in place at a young age, and are not easy to tinker with, so well done to what you've achieved so far.

It's interesting you mention resentment because that is exactly what can happen as a result of being too agreeable. Due to the strong aversion to conflict, highly agreeable people will tolerate, commit to, and even embrace courses of action that deep down they really don't want to. This can result in feelings of being used and disrespected, and ultimately resentful. There's also a sense of self-abandonment when putting the needs of others first to detriment of oneself.

Don't get me wrong, a strong inclination towards agreeableness is a very positive trait overall. It results in better relationships where hostility is minimized, attracting positive energy such as friendship, love and cooperation. Agreeable people recruit positive, pro-social thoughts in hostile contexts and their positive thoughts allow them to regulate hostility before it gets out of hand. But high agreeableness does have that martyrdom side that can work against one's own interests, and as such lead to resentment.
 

Human Ex Machinae

Void Where Prohibited
#13
To me it seems that human emotions and feelings and personalities and modes of thought are so complex and, in some ways, practically infinite in their variability, that the periodic attempts throughout the history of psychology to corral and organize them using the power of word-labels are almost...charming.
 
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Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#14
I'm mad highly agreeable. Much to my detriment. I literally struggle with everything on that list and can't stomach the thought that there are people in the world that dislike. Not that I go out of my way to make people like me, like I don't want to or need to be everyone's friend, but I at least need to remain innocuous enough to not incur other people's disdain. Therefore I don't assert myself in order to fly under the radar.

I can assert myself but only if necessary and then I tend to feel bad about if for days.

Also I've been told I'm great at guilting people into things.

It's a main reason I want to work alone (like Batman) because working with others can be so emotionally draining for me. If I would work by myself I wouldn't have to be so conscious of what others thought of me.
Thanks for you reply b_o_s.

It sounds like you may indeed be high in this trait - you know yourself better than I - but I get the sense there may be a little bit more to it than that?

Are you also high on neuroticism? High agreeableness is not correlated with a negative view of oneself but high neuroticism is.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#15
To me it seems that human emotions and feelings and personalities and modes of thought are so complex and, in some ways, practically infinite in their variability, that the periodic attempts throughout the history of psychology to corral and organize them using the power of word-labels are almost...charming.
They are indeed quite charming. But having some starting point might be a bit more practically helpful than floating around in some nebulous cloud of infinite variability.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#16
There are facets of each five, how you rank in those will vary but you'll see a tendency and a lot of overlap.


For example: I am DANGEROUSLY low in ALL of the extraversion facets, VERY HIGH in ALL of the neuroticism facets, but a mixed bag when it comes to the other three. In agreeableness I am super high in being straight-forward, but very low in compliance and tender-mindedness. In conscientiousness I am very low on all fronts except for deliberation and order, which are higher than average. In openness I am low in everything except for ideas and maybe values.

Great thread, thanks.
I am DANGEROUSLY low in both agreeableness and neuroticism.

What would like to change if you could?
 

Legate Lanius

Try not to kill yourself 2020 challenge.
#17
I am DANGEROUSLY low in both agreeableness and neuroticism.

What would like to change if you could?
I'd like to lower that neuroticism, but I do have the ability to get into a berserker state because of it. This would be pretty good if I had to fight people with knives or something. I can also avoid a shit ton of mistakes and dangers because of it. Maybe it's not THAT high, but I have "negative" emotions most of the time.
 

Dark111

Scholar's Mate
SF Supporter
#19
I'd like to lower that neuroticism, but I do have the ability to get into a berserker state because of it. This would be pretty good if I had to fight people with knives or something. I can also avoid a shit ton of mistakes and dangers because of it. Maybe it's not THAT high, but I have "negative" emotions most of the time.
Clerks - Berserker

 

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