Being Nice is Bad !

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

And, being sad is good ! (for some people at least)

Well, yesterday I was going through some research on behavioral theories, and here is what I found (bolds my own):

In addition, though not hypothesized, agreeableness negatively predicted extrinsic success. Although this latter finding was unexpected, we should note that  Howard  and Bray  (1988)  did find that  affability (degree  to which an individual is nurturing, not aggressive, sympathetic, and supportive) was negatively related to management potential.  As this construct appears to be closely related to agreeableness, it is consistent with the findings reported here.

You can read the research paper here.

Extrinsic success is defined in terms of salary and number of promotions. The reason for this, the authors say, is that being nice may make you more caring of other people’s welfare, and less of your own, not a very good thing in business where ‘bargaining power’ is a key in negotiations.

Now, for the ‘sadness’ part, this is what I found in a paper available here :

The current studies suggest that people might prefer, at least epistemically, to experience more negative mood states rather than less negative ones. This of course places the individual in a peculiar position in that feeling bad promotes effective functioning. This seeming paradox is resolved by recognizing that people often seek to be effective rather than happy in their interactions with the environment.

But this does not (as compared to first result) apply to all. It is true for the kind of people who have a tendency to be sad or in a negative mood.

But… “people often seek to be effective rather than happy”


Do you think its the case with you? What would you choose – being a nice/happy but not very successful, or being less-nice/sad but more successful?

What have you already chosen?

Update: Oops ! The access to the articles is not working. Turns out that there is access from IIM Indore but not from outside.  My apologies for the same. Thanks Aviral for pointing this out. The articles are named:

“The Big Five Personality Traits, General Mental Ability, And Career Success Across The Life Span” by Timothy A. Judge, Chad A. Higgins, Carl J.  Thoresen and Murray R.  Barrick

“Knowing Good from Bad: The Paradox of Neuroticism, Negative Affect, and Evaluative Processing” by Maya Tamir and Michael D. Robinson


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