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What is Agreeableness?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains agreeableness.

grey clock icon 0:49 Quickly understand agreeableness.

Agreeableness is a personality trait which determines how sympathetic, empathetic, cooperative, and considerate a person is. Informally, agreeableness is referred to as an interpersonal “niceness” factor, as highly agreeable people tend to appear warm, polite, and welcoming when talking to others. People who score low on this construct are referred to as “Disagreeable”, and are more likely to seek conflict, pursue their own interests, and struggle to empathise with others.

Agreeableness is a major constituent of the Big Five personality traits, alongside openness to experiences, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Agreeableness (or related constructs) also appears on several other models of personality, such as the HEXACO model and the 16PF model. Consequently, a wide range of assessments are available to measure agreeableness, along with the specific sub-traits which collectively underpin it.

In employee selection, agreeableness has a complex relationship with job performance. Research shows that employees that are both high on conscientiousness and agreeableness tend to perform better than highly conscientious but disagreeable employees (Witt et al, 2002). Agreeableness is also positively assorted with performance in roles which involve caring and high levels of emotional labour (Johnson, Rowatt, & Petrini, 2011). Lastly, agreeableness is positively associated with performance in management roles when managing highly autonomous staff, but negative when managing staff with lower levels of autonomy (Gellatly & Irving,2001).

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