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Being a nice guy doesn't pay off, literally!

Last updated on: August 16, 2011 17:52 IST

Being a nice guy doesn't pay off, literally!

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Being a nice guy is perhaps not good always, at least for your professional career, as a new study has found that men with disagreeable personalities are 18 per cent more likely to earn more than their sweet and gentle counterparts.

The study, to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that nice guys don't get ahead in salary negotiations, but they don't finish last either - that position is left for women, whether or not they're nice.

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Image: Nice guys don't get ahead in salary negotiations.

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Being a nice guy doesn't pay off, literally!

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On the other hand, disagreeable women earn only about five per cent more than their gentle counterparts. They were also less likely to be recommended for a promotion than disagreeable men, LiveScience reported.

That may be because people judge no-nonsense women more harshly than no-nonsense men, said study researcher Timothy Judge of the University of Notre Dames' Mendoza College of Business in Australia.

"Women who appear to be tough or disagreeable get a special kind of scorn directed toward them."

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Image: Women, whether nice or not, are at the bottom of salary rung.

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Being a nice guy doesn't pay off, literally!

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"That neutralizes the benefit that they might otherwise receive from their toughness," Judge said.

For their research, Judge and his colleagues pulled data of about 3,500 people from three large American studies: the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth, the National Survey of Midlife Development and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and job complexity that could skew the results.

In all the studies, people who scored high in disagreeableness were found to have earned more than agreeable types.

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Image: People who scored high in disagreeableness were found to have earned more.

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Being a nice guy doesn't pay off, literally!

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Men who were disagreeable earned 18.31 percent more than agreeable men, a difference that translated to an average of $9,772 a year more for the people in the surveys.

Disagreeable women outearned agreeable women by 5.47 per cent, an average difference of only $1,828 per year, the researchers said.

According to the researchers, agreeableness is one of the basic personality traits found to have a strong genetic basis and about half of the variation between people's agreeableness is controlled by genes.

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Image: Disagreeable women outearned agreeable women by 5.47 per cent.

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Warmth and cooperation would seem to be beneficial traits in the workplace, but earlier studies had found that, on the contrary, agreeableness is not associated with career success.

To find out why disagreeableness seems beneficial to men in particular, the researchers asked 460 undergraduates to read profiles of eight female job promotion candidates or eight male candidates.

Half of the candidates in each group were painted as agreeable, while the other were disagreeable.

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Image: Agreeableness is not associated with career success.

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It was found that disagreeable men were more likely to be recommended for promotion than disagreeable women as the participants indicated they saw disagreeable men as strong leaders, an advantage they didn't find in disagreeable women.

Though it might seem galling that the jerk in the next cubicle has a greater chance of promotion than you, disagreeable doesn't necessarily mean rude, the authors wrote.

Rather, disagreeable people may simply set more aggressive goals and negotiate harder than agreeable types, Judge added.


Image: Disagreeable doesn't necessarily mean rude.

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