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Hey, you! Mean people earn more, study finds

Yahoo!7 Finance


It may not pay to be nice in the workplace.

A new U.S. study has found that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones. The gap is especially wide for men. (More From Yahoo!7 Finance:  A Tour Of The Most Expensive Street In The World)

The researchers examined "agreeableness" using self-reported survey data and found that men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more - or US$9,772 more annually in their sample - than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or US$1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts.

"Nice guys are getting the shaft," says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in the U.S. (More From Yahoo!7 Finance:  The World's Most Distressed Property Markets)

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The researchers analysed data collected over nearly 20 years from three different surveys, which sampled roughly 10,000 workers comprising a wide range of professions, salaries and ages. (The three surveys measured the notion of "agreeableness" in different ways.) They also conducted a separate study of 460 business students who were asked to act as human-resource managers for a fictional company and presented with short descriptions for candidates for a consultant position. Men who were described as highly agreeable were less likely to get the job.

For men being agreeable may not conform "to expectations of 'masculine behavior,'" the researchers write in the study. People who are more agreeable may also be less willing to assert themselves in salary negotiations, Dr. Livingston adds. (More From Yahoo!7 Finance:  Absurdly Expensive Everyday Objects)

"The problem is, many managers often don't realise they reward disagreeableness," says Dr. Livingston. "You can say this is what you value as a company, but your compensation system may not really reflect that, especially if you leave compensation decisions to individual managers."

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