Nice Guys and Women Earn the Least Amount of Money

Author: Mikaela Conley

"Nice guys finish last" the old adage goes, and a new study suggests there just might be some truth to this dictum — at least when it comes to workplace earnings.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Behavior, found that men who described themselves as nice -- agreeable, cooperative and kind -- earned 18 percent less than men who characterized themselves as disagreeable and aggressive. Women earned the least amount of money, but women who called themselves disagreeable made about 5 percent more than their more friendly female counterparts.

Timothy A. Judge, a professor of management at the University of Notre Dame and lead author of the study, said the most significant finding showed that what works for men -- disagreeableness -- didn't work as well for women.

Two factors probably contribute to this, he said.

"First, I think people interpret disagreeable behavior by men and women differently," Judge wrote in an email to ABCNews.com. "Disagreeable men are [seen as] tough-minded and good negotiators. Disagreeable women are seen as "bit**es" or labeled in a similarly derogatory way. Think of Martha Stewart and Hillary Clinton. Appropriate behavior is somewhat gendered."

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