What is Agreeableness
Agreeableness is one of the five major personality traits that are associated with human behavior. Agreeableness is the ability of a person to be harmonious (agreeable) with the people around. People who are agreeable are often seen to be warm, kind, and pleasant to interact with.
Agreeableness improves interpersonal relationships and results in a satisfactory life.
Agreeableness is a superordinate trait. It means that there are a lot of sub-traits that are grouped under this major trait. Below is a list of 6 sub-traits that form a part of agreeableness.
Importance of Agreeableness
Agreeableness reflects the individual's tendency to develop and maintain prosocial relationships. Individuals high in this trait are more trustworthy, straightforward, altruistic, compliant, modest, and tender-minded.
Agreeableness also affects other personality traits.
Empathy is the ability of a person to feel other people’s emotions. Agreeableness is positively associated with empathy. Studies conclude that people who show high agreeableness are able to be more empathetic too.
Altruism is a behavior where people put other’s happiness forefront and derive joy out of it. Altruism is a very important trait needed for the upliftment of the community and is also positively associated with agreeable people.
Trust is the ability to depend, believe, or confide in another person. Being agreeable makes it easy for a person to trust people around.
Everyday Satisfaction and Relationship Satisfaction
The results of three individual studies were analyzed, and the effects of agreeableness on interpersonal relationships and satisfaction were studied.
All studies concluded that agreeableness was positively related to everyday satisfaction and relationship satisfaction.
People who are agreeable try their best to avoid confrontation and hence prefer cooperation over-aggression or anger.
People who are more agreeable show higher levels of modesty.
Lowered levels of agreeableness are also associated with an increased risk of mortality.
Another 2003 study concluded that people with lowered levels of agreeability were at an increased risk for developing a love for unhealthy food habits and an increased risk for physical health conditions like obesity.
The Influence Of Genetics On Agreeableness
The CLOCK Gene
The CLOCK gene (Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput gene) helps control the body’s internal clock and regulates sleeping and waking up times.
Since the sleep cycle is very important in regulating metabolism and other psychological functions in the body, it also plays a role in changing people’s behaviors.
rs6832769 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CLOCK gene. The major A allele of this SNP is associated with less agreeability behavior than the minor G allele.
The CNR1 Gene
The CNR1 gene (Cannabinoid Receptor type 1 gene) helps produce the cannabinoid receptor in the body. These receptors are active in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in the body. These receptors play a role in the emotional state of a person and also alter their behavior.
rs806366 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the CNR1 gene.
The major C allele of this SNP is associated with higher levels of agreeableness when compared to the minor T allele.
Non-Genetic Influences Affecting Levels of Agreeableness
Women score higher in levels of agreeableness than men and show traits like warmth and tender mindedness.
A study analyzed the changes in the Big Five personality traits with age. The study considered the results of two national samples and concluded that the levels of agreeability increased steadily with age. Older people showed higher levels of agreeability when compared to younger individuals.
The parenting style a child is exposed to during the initial years makes a difference in the big five personality traits developed as an adult. Children who experience positive parenting grow up to become agreeable adults. Children who are exposed to an angry parenting style, especially from their mothers, grow with less agreeability and more neuroticism.
Characteristics of People With High Agreeability
- Easily gets along with people
- Can trust others easily
- Come off as warm, helpful, and kind
- Can easily make and retain friends
- Show high levels of empathy and altruism
- Are well-liked
- Are modest
- Cooperates easily with other kinds of people
- Are easy to please
- Are less assertive
- Find it difficult to make tough decisions
Characteristics of People With Low Agreeability
- Has trust issues
- Find it difficult to retain friends
- Are highly competitive
- Can be considered hostile in the beginning
- Can be considered antagonistic
- Easily falls out with people
- Are more assertive
- Make more powerful leaders
- Are difficult to please
- Find it easy to make tough decisions
Achieving the Right Level Of Agreeableness
Getting Your People-Pleasing Nature Under Control
People who are very agreeable try hard at pleasing others around. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology asked a group of 104 people to interact and play a game together. The study concluded that members were not very happy with people who are very agreeable and tried to push them out of the group.
The Pollyanna Myth
Pollyanna Myth is a tendency where people remember positive things better and more accurately than negative things. The results of four individual studies show that people who are more agreeable go through extremes of the Pollyanna Myth.
This means they judge prosocial behaviors very positively, but they judge antisocial behaviors with extreme negativity. This makes them unfairly judgemental to those who are not perfect.
Avoid Falling Into Group Thinking
Studies suggest that people who are very agreeable tend to become group-thinkers. These individuals cannot make their own unique decisions in a group and may not become effective leaders.
If you are very agreeable, be a part of smaller groups where you are not coerced into making a decision that the group agrees to. Smaller groups work better for people with high levels of agreeableness and encourage them to take independent decisions more confidently.
- Agreeableness is a very important human trait that increases a person's ability to be harmonious with people around.
- Agreeableness has six sub-traits: trust, altruism, straightforwardness, modesty, compliance, and tender-mindedness.
- Agreeableness affects a lot of other behavioral traits, including empathy, relationship satisfaction, and modesty.
- The level of agreeableness is influenced in part by genetics. Changes in CLOCK and CNR1 play a role in increasing/ decreasing one's agreeableness.
- Other factors influencing agreeableness include gender, age, and parenting practices.
- Both low and high levels of agreeableness can be problematic. Highly agreeable people fall into group thinking and may not be able to make their own decisions.
- Getting your people-pleasing nature under control and knowing when to say no to people can help achieve the right level of agreeableness.