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Published On: Tue, Jan 3rd, 2012

Humble People More Helpful According To Research

What personality correlates with lending a helpful hand?

Researchers from Baylor University state that a humble person is more likely to offer time to someone in need than a not-so-humble person.

The findings are published in theThe Journal of Positive Psychology.

FEMA photo/Kevin Galvin

FEMA photo/Kevin Galvin

According to lead author Jordan LaBouff, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychology at the University of Maine, who collaborated on the research while a doctoral candidate at Baylor, “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. The only other personality trait that has shown any effect is agreeableness, but we found that humility predicted helping over and above that.”

Wade C. Rowatt, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who led the study and co-authored the article said, “The research indicates that humility is a positive quality with potential benefits. 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.”

In a Baylor University news release, the research involved three studies of college students:

• In Study 1, participants who reported themselves as humble also generally reported that they were helpful, even when other important personality factors, such as agreeableness, were statistically controlled. Because people can easily under-report or exaggerate their humility to create a desired impression, the subsequent studies used an implicit measure of humility.

• In Study 2, students evaluated a recording they were told might be broadcast later on the campus radio station. The recording described a fellow student who had injured a leg and could not attend class regularly. Each participant was asked how many hours over the next three weeks they would be willing to meet with the injured student to provide aid. Humble persons offered more time to help than less humble ones.

• In Study 3, both implicit and self-report measures of humility were used. Students were asked to associate as quickly as possible traits that applied to themselves. Among stimulus words in the humility association test were humble, modest, tolerant, down to earth, respectful and open-minded. Stimulus words in the arrogance portion included arrogant, immodest, egotistical and conceited. Again, humility was associated with amount of time offered to help a student in need, especially when pressure to help was low.

The study abstract states:

Humility and helpfulness correlated positively when personality and impression management were controlled. Humble participants helped more than did less humble participants even when agreeableness and desirable responding were statistically controlled. Further, implicit humility uniquely predicted helping behavior in an altruistic motivation condition.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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