Researchers Find Out Why Nice Guys Do Finish Last

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By ranina sanglap | December 6, 2011 10:37 AM EST

A new study has proved that nice guys really do finish last.

 The famous aphorism from baseball manager Leo Durocher has been used to describe the kind of person who succeeds at life. People who make it to the top need to cut corners and compromise their ethics which is why you'll never see nice guys at the head of Fortune 500 companies.

The saying was an extremely pessimistic view on the nature of humanity and no one wanted to believe the Durocher was right. Surely there are successful people who aren't completely heartless? Well according to a study by researchers Beth A. Livingston of Cornell University, Timothy A. Judge of Notre Dame and Charlice Hurst of University of Western Ontario, nice guys don't win at the game of life.

The researchers analyzed data they collected over 20 years from three different surveys. Their data set consisted of roughly 10,000 workers from a variety of professions, salaries and ages. The respondents were asked about their career and given a series of cognitive and personality tests. The researchers looked for the correlation between how the respondents "agreeableness" which is composed of six facets: trust, straightforwardness, compliance, altruism, modesty and tender-mindedness, and their income level.

The respondents had to answer questions like "how much do you feel that agreeable describes you as a person, where 1 means quarrelsome and 5 means agreeable?" and "how much do you feel that stubborn describes you as a person, where 1 means flexible and 5 means stubborn?"

The results showed that agreeable men earned nearly $7000 less than their disagreeable co-workers. The salary discrepancy was a result of society's expectations that men had to be more aggressive, combative or even rude in the workplace. Women also earned less than men, agreeable women earned about $1,100 less than their less agreeable peers.

The researchers also conducted another experiment with 460 undergrads in a business management class. The students were asked to hypothetically hire candidates who were described as smart, insightful and conscientious. The only difference between the candidates was their levels of disagreeableness. The men who had higher levels of agreeableness were much less likely to get fast-tracked for management.

What this all suggests is that in an office environment men are expected to be more aggressive than their peers and that women are still being subtly discriminated against.

The results are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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