Want to Get Paid More? Be Disagreeable.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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"Niceness -- in the form of the trait of agreeableness -- does not appear to pay."

So say the researchers behind a new report, "Do Nice Guys -- and Gals -- Really Finish Last?" which looks at the way the trait of being agreeable affects compensation in the workplace.

The results are based on 20 years of data from three different surveys, involving 10,000 workers in various industries and pay grades, as well as an experiment involving more than 400 respondents.

The report will appear in the Journal of Personality and Psychology.

The researchers found that men who gave themselves a below-average agreeableness score earned approximately 18 percent, or $9,772, more annually than their nicer male colleagues.

"Yes, nice guys did tend to make less than their less-agreeable counterparts," says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Ithaca, N.Y.

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Less-agreeable men are more likely to negotiate for raises or higher starting salaries, she says.

For women, there was less of an effect: The disagreeableness effect yielded only a five-percent annual pay bump, or $1,826.

Livingston's co-authors were Timothy Judge of the University of Notre Dame and Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario.

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