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What Is Agreeableness?

Agreeableness is a personality trait. A person with this trait can be described as cooperative, polite, kind, and friendly. In addition, people high in agreeableness are more trusting, affectionate, altruistic, as well as other general prosocial behaviors. People high in this prosocial trait are particularly empathetic, showing great concern for the welfare of others, and being the first to help those in need.

An agreeable individual is a people-oriented person who usually enjoys good social skills. These people often see others through a rose-colored view, trying to find the positive side in everyone. The less amenable person, however, is more inclined to be manipulative, callous, aggressive, and competitive. They don’t care much about other people, make disparaging or offending comments, have little patience, and are easily irked and annoyed.

Not surprisingly, the agreeable are more likely to control their anger and negative emotions, and more inclined to avoid conflict. One may find these congenial types in sales positions or in human resources. They, however, tend to be more affected by rejection because they may be more emotionally sensitive. Agreeable people sometimes suffer when they put the needs of others over their own.

Agreeableness is one of five dimensions of personality described as the Big Five. The other traits are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism.

Can You Become More Agreeable?

A person can become more agreeable over time. A study that appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that this personality trait is somewhat adaptable as people age. In general, people become more emotionally stable, more conscientious, and more agreeable in their later years. But age isn't the only factor. Sometimes, a work environment demands team effort and partnership; collaboration requires a measure of agreeableness. Also, altruism can rub off on people, too—seeing a person doing good can perpetuate kindness and charity. Plus, living through the hardship of life can make a person more agreeable. Of course, being too amenable isn’t always a good thing. For example, giving in to an argument just to remain friendly isn’t always the best outcome; and certain situations demand less congeniality, like managing financial negotiations or other potentially discomforting scenarios.

Signs of the Highly Agreeable

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  • Seems happy and satisfied with life
  • Complains less than others
  • Does not belittle others
  • Does not cause trouble or challenge the status quo
  • Does not tend toward perfectionism
  • Is not rigid
  • Scores low in the Dark Triad and other malevolent traits
  • Wants to cooperate and live in harmony
  • Is often altruistic and pro-social
  • Trusts others

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