Mendoza School of Business

Nice Guys and Women Earn the Least Amount of Money

Published: August 16, 2011 / 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 “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

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Topics: Mendoza