Mendoza School of Business

Nice guys finish happier, but they make less money

Published: March 27, 2013 / Author: Judith Kleinfeld

Adam Baker was a nice guy. People at his company flocked to him because he put them at ease.

He had worked hard to build a new line of business for his company — buying a chain of five urban hotels. Baker had spotted the opportunity, convinced his boss that this was a money-making deal, and even rounded up other investors, including someone serving with Adam on the board of directors at his business school.
He wanted to run the new enterprise.

But his boss called — Adam was not the right guy to lead this venture.


But such agreeable people don’t reach the top, at least when measured by income levels, finds psychologist Timothy Judge at the University of Notre Dame and his colleagues (“Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last?” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology).

Using a large real-world sample of 1,692 people and taking into account the kinds of jobs they had, Judge found that men who scored very low in agreeableness made $19,241 more than than who scored very high in agreeableness.

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Topics: Mendoza