What Is Agreeableness?

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When it comes to personality traits, if you're someone that has scored high in agreeableness, you're likely popular and tend to make friends easily. You also may be seen as trustworthy, altruistic, honest, modest, empathetic, and cooperative.

Agreeableness is one of the Big Five personality traits, which theorizes that there are five major dimensions to personality. Each dimension is viewed on a continuum, which means while you may be dominant in one area—like agreeableness—you still have some level of the other four traits represented in your personality as well.

In addition to agreeableness, the other Big Five traits include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. OCEAN is the acronym commonly used by psychologists to help people remember all five traits. Overall, the Big Five is a useful tool for considering and learning more about personality traits. It's also useful in identifying and predicting how people will respond in different situations.

Common Characteristics of Agreeableness

Overall, agreeableness describes a person's ability to put other people's needs above their own. For instance, people who are high in agreeableness naturally experience empathy and tend to get tremendous pleasure from serving others and taking care of them.

Agreeable people also are trusting and forgiving and would rather collaborate than compete with others. Clearly, scoring high in agreeableness can be advantageous in many situations because it's a key trait in attaining and maintaining popularity. Agreeable people are generally well-liked and a joy to be around. Most people consider them good friends.

Although agreeableness has many positive aspects, there are some downsides. For instance, agreeable people may struggle to assert their wants, needs, and preferences. They also struggle in situations that require tough decisions or tough love. And when it comes to their careers, they may be so intent on helping others get ahead that they forget to plan their own advancement.

Meanwhile, people who score low in agreeableness tend to be more hostile, antagonistic, and competitive. They also tend to have more difficult relationships that are riddled with disagreements and breakups. Here are some common characteristics of people who score high in agreeableness:

  • Get along well with others
  • Are popular and well-liked
  • Care for others in need
  • Are helpful, kind, and considerate
  • Display sensitivity
  • Are socially and emotionally intelligent
  • De-escalate conflict
  • Refrain from judging people
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt
  • Like to collaborate
  • Form friendships easily
  • Tend to be altruistic and perceptive
  • Are emotionally supportive

Prevalence of Agreeableness

Like the other four factors of personality, agreeableness is usually measured using self-report inventories. These questionnaires typically contain statements where the person taking the test decides if they agree with the statement, disagree with the statement, or fall somewhere in between.

Because agreeableness is measured with self-report questionnaires and is considered a dimension of personality and not a diagnosis, there is not a lot of information available on the prevalence of agreeableness among the general population.

Instead, each person has some level of agreeableness that exists along a continuum. In other words, you are either very high in agreeableness, very low, or somewhere in between.

How Agreeableness Influences Behavior

When it comes to personality testing, measuring a person's agreeableness determines their ability to be kind, empathetic, trusting, cooperative, and sympathetic. In other words, it shows how well the person meshes with society.

Within the trait of agreeableness, there are six facets or sub-traits that further illustrate what makes a person agreeable:

  • Altruism
  • Cooperation
  • Honest
  • Modesty
  • Sympathy
  • Trust

Here is an overview of these traits:

Altruistic

People who are agreeable feel good when they are helping others. What's more, they get tremendous internal rewards for doing good deeds and do not view it as self-sacrificing. They get a sense of fulfillment from the act itself.

Meanwhile, those who score low in agreeableness feel like helping others is an imposition. And even though they may recognize it, they often have no desire to change their behavior.

Cooperative

When someone scores high in agreeableness, they will go to great lengths to avoid confrontations with other people. They like to be seen as peacemakers, but will often compromise their own needs and interests to get along with other people.

On the other hand, people who score low in agreeableness are prone to forcing their will on other people. They also will use intimidation and aggression to get their own way.

Honest

If someone scores high in agreeableness, they tend to be straightforward and sincere. They rarely feel the need to manipulate people to get what they want. Likewise, they are viewed as genuine, loving people who are easy to relate to.

But, if a person scores low in agreeableness, they may feel there is nothing wrong with being deceptive, especially when it's more convenient. They also may be more secretive.

Modest

People who score high in agreeableness are very down-to-earth and rarely claim to be better than others. They also are usually humble—sometimes to the point that they may have lower self-esteem.

Meanwhile, someone who scores low in agreeableness might be more arrogant or not above taking advantage of other people. They also may try to do more to show that they are superior to others.

Sympathetic

When someone scores high in agreeableness, they are often very sympathetic and are easily moved to have care and concern for others. They also are emotionally intelligent and very empathetic, often relating to the pain and suffering of other people.

People who score low in agreeableness are not inclined to be merciful and may not feel empathy.

Trusting

If someone scores high in agreeableness, they are prone to assume that other people have good intentions and mean well. They can also be slow to make judgments about other people and often care for people unconditionally.

On the other hand, if someone scores low in agreeableness they tend to view others as selfish and believe they are only out for their own interests. They also may see people as a threat to their own interests and well-being.

Overall, if you are an agreeable person, there are some common behaviors that probably occur pretty consistently in your life. Here are some common ways that people who are high in agreeableness behave. Look for yourself in these scenarios:

  • Put the interests of others before their own
  • May engage in people-pleasing behavior
  • Need affirmation from others
  • Are kind, considerate, and helpful
  • Tend to get involved in altruistic activities or community events
  • Will compromise on their ideas and ideals if it reduces conflict
  • Refrain from being abrasive or contradicting
  • Try to be honest and sincere in words and deeds

A Word From Verywell

Remember, personality traits—like agreeableness—represent just one factor in determining who you are. Even if you score high in agreeableness, you still have some level of the other traits within your personality.

So, while understanding agreeableness can help you make sense of your tendencies, it's not your only defining characteristic. Every person has some dimension of the remaining Big Five traits in their life. Be open to exploring all areas of your personality.

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