Agreeableness is a tendency to be pleasant and accommodating in social situations. In contemporary personality psychology, agreeableness is one of the five major dimensions of personality structure, reflecting individual differences in concern for cooperation and social harmony.[1] People who score high on this dimension are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. They also have an optimistic view of human nature. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy.

People scoring low on agreeableness are generally less concerned with others' well-being, report less empathy, and are therefore less likely to go out of their way to help others. Their skepticism about other people's motives may cause them to be suspicious and unfriendly. People very low on agreeableness have a tendency to be manipulative in their social relationships. They are more likely to compete than to cooperate.

Agreeableness is considered to be a superordinate trait, meaning that it is a grouping of more specific personality traits that cluster together statistically. There are exceptions, but in general, people who are concerned about others also tend to cooperate with them, help them out, and trust them. This dimension of personality was initially discovered in research using the method of factor analysis.

Agreeableness can be viewed as the opposite of Machiavellianism.[2] It is also similar conceptually to Alfred Adler's idea of social interest.


Interpersonal relations

Agreeableness is a real asset in situations that require getting along with others. Agreeable individuals display a tendency to perceive others in a more positive light than if they were disagreeable. There isn't really any evidence agreeable individuals are more conforming or that they are more easily influenced by others in making choices. 

Because agreeable children are more sensitive to the needs and perspectives of others, they are less likely to suffer from social rejection. Specifically, the research indicates that children who are less disruptive, less aggressive, and more skilled at entering play groups are more likely to gain acceptance by their peers.[3]

One study found that people high in agreeableness are more emotionally responsive in social situations. This effect was measured on both self-report questionnaires and physiological measures, and offers evidence that extraversion and neuroticism are not the only Big Five personality factors that influence emotion. The effect was especially pronounced among women.[4]

The research also shows that people high in agreeableness are more likely to control negative emotions like anger in conflict situations. Those who are high in agreeableness are more likely to use constructive tactics when in conflict with others, whereas people low in agreeableness are more likely to use coercive tactics.[5] They are also more willing to give ground to their adversary and may "lose" arguments with people who are less agreeable. From their perspective, they have not really lost an argument as much as maintained a congenial relationship with another person.[6]

A monk who'd trained extensively in compassion meditation (and accordingly changed his brain to experience more positive emotion)[7] named Matthieu Ricard engaged in a debate with a hot-tempered professor while both were hooked up to machines to monitor their physiological and mental states. At the beginning of the debate, the professor was very upset and angry while Matthieu Ricard was calm. As the debate continued the professor became calmer and calmer while Matthieu Ricard stayed calm. At the end of the discussion the professor was having such a good time that he didn't want to stop![8]

Prosocial behavior

A central feature of agreeableness is its positive association with altruism and helping behavior. Across situations, people who are high in agreeableness are more likely to report an interest and involvement with helping others. Experiments have shown that whereas most people are likely to help their own kin, or when empathy has been aroused, agreeable people are likely to help even when these conditions are not present.[9] In other words, agreeable people appear to be "traited for helping"[10] and do not need any other motivations.

While agreeable individuals are habitually likely to help others, disagreeable people may be more likely to harm them. Researchers have found that low levels of agreeableness are associated with hostile thoughts and aggression in adolescents, as well as poor social adjustment.[11] People low in agreeableness are also more likely to be prejudiced against stigmatized groups such as the overweight.[12]

When mental illness is present, low agreeableness may be associated with narcissistic and anti-social tendencies.[13] In theory, individuals who are extremely high in agreeableness are at risk for problems of dependency, but empirical studies show that many more problems are associated with low agreeableness.


In the United States, midwesterners and southerners tend to have higher average scores on agreeableness than people living in other regions. According to researchers, the top ten most agreeable states are North Dakota, Minnesota, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. [14] These findings are consistent with well known expressions in these states, such as "southern hospitality" and "Minnesota nice." Because these states are generally less urbanized than the east and west coasts, people may be more likely to live in small communities and know their neighbors, and consequently, more willing to care about them and help them out.

See also


  1. ^ Graziano, W.G., & Eisenberg, N. (1997). Agreeableness; A dimension of personality. In R. Hogan, S. Briggs, & J. Johnson, (1997). Handbook of Personality Psychology. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  2. ^ Jakobwitz, S., & Egan, V. (2006). The dark triad and normal personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 331-339.
  3. ^ Bierman, K. L. (2003). Peer rejection: Developmental processes and intervention strategies. New York: The Guilford Press.
  4. ^ Tobin, R.M., Graziano, W.G., Vanman, E., & Tassinary, L. (2000). Personality, emotional experience, and efforts to control emotions. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 79, 656-669.
  5. ^ Jensen-Campbell, L. A., & Graziano, W. G. (2001). Agreeableness as a moderator of interpersonal conflict. Journal of Personality, 69, 323- 361.
  6. ^ Graziano, W.G., Jensen-Campbell, L.A., & Hair, E. C. (1996). Perceiving interpersonal conflict and reacting to it: The case for agreeableness. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 70, 820-835.
  7. ^ Regulation of Neural Circuitry by Compassion Meditation by Davidson et al.,10&as_vis=1
  8. ^ Authors@Google Daniel Goleman, the story starts at 48minutes 0seconds, the url is
  9. ^ Graziano, W. G., Habashi, M. M., Sheese, B.E., & Tobin, R. M. (2007). Agreeableness, empathy, and helping: A person X situation perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  10. ^ Penner, L. A., Fritzsche, B. A., Craiger, J. P., & Freifeld, T. S. (1995). Measuring the prosocial personality. Advances in Personality Assessment, 10, 147-163.
  11. ^ Gleason, K.A., Jensen-Campbell, L.A., & Richardson, D. (2004). Agreeableness and aggression in adolescence. Aggressive Behavior, 30, 43-61.
  12. ^ Graziano, W.G., Bruce, J. W., Sheese, B.E., & Tobin, R.M. (2007). Attraction, personality and prejudice: Liking none of the people most of the time. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 93, 565-582.
  13. ^ Costa, P. T. & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO personality Inventory professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  14. ^ Stephanie Simon (2008-09-23). "The United States of Mind. Researchers Identify Regional Personality Traits Across America".  Original research article: Peter J. Rentfrow, Samuel D. Gosling and Jeff Potter (2008). "A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics". Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (5): 339–369. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00084.x. 

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  • Agreeableness — A*gree a*ble*ness, n. 1. The quality of being agreeable or pleasing; that quality which gives satisfaction or moderate pleasure to the mind or senses. [1913 Webster] That author . . . has an agreeableness that charms us. Pope. [1913 Webster] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • agreeableness — index amenability, amenity, benevolence (disposition to do good), comity, propriety (appropriateness) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • agreeableness — agreeable ► ADJECTIVE 1) pleasant. 2) willing to agree to something. 3) acceptable. DERIVATIVES agreeableness noun agreeably adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • agreeableness — noun 1. pleasantness resulting from agreeable conditions a well trained staff saw to the agreeableness of our accommodations he discovered the amenities of reading at an early age • Syn: ↑amenity • Ant: ↑disagreeableness • Derivationally related… …   Useful english dictionary

  • agreeableness — noun see agreeable …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • agreeableness — See agreeability. * * * …   Universalium

  • agreeableness — noun a) The quality of being agreeable or pleasing; that quality which gives satisfaction or moderate pleasure to the mind or senses. b) The quality of being agreeable or suitable; suitableness or conformity; …   Wiktionary

  • agreeableness — (Roget s Thesaurus II) noun The quality of being pleasant and friendly: affability, agreeability, amenity, amiability, amiableness, congeniality, congenialness, cordiality, cordialness, friendliness, geniality, genialness, pleasantness,… …   English dictionary for students

  • agreeableness — a gree·a·ble·ness || nɪs n. pleasantness; friendliness, ease; suitability …   English contemporary dictionary

  • agreeableness — agree·a·ble·ness …   English syllables

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