Episode 168: Agreeableness and Its Effect on the Workplace with Michael Wilmot

March 30 , 2022  |  By Matt Waller

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This week Matt sat down with Michael Wilmot, Assistant Professor of Management in the Walton College, to discuss his recently published paper on agreeableness and it's consequences. He also discusses the other five traits of personality and their relation to agreeableness and the effects of each in the workplace and on job performance.

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Episode Transcript

Michael Wilmot  0:00  
So there's a lot of advantages associated with agreeableness. The main disadvantage though is it tends to be have weak relationships or negative relationships with career success variables, promotions, and salary.

Matt Waller  0:12  
Excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality. These are the values the Sam M. Walton College of Business explores in education, business and the lives of people we meet every day, I'm Matt Waller, Dean of the Walton College and welcome to the be epic podcast. I have with me today, Michael Wilmont, Assistant Professor of Management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business here at the University of Arkansas. He joined the Walton College in the summer of 2020. So he's been here about a year and a half. He's been a very productive researcher already. He got his PhD from the University of Minnesota. Michael, thank you so much for taking time to visit with me this morning.

Michael Wilmot  1:02  
Matt, very happy to be here. Thank you.

Matt Waller  1:05  
Michael, as you know, I was reviewing you had a paper published recently, I was reading it because I always knew I didn't read the whole thing. But I read parts of it. But I found it very interesting. If you're interested in business, this would be some research you might you might find interesting, but but again, what's the name of the journal and journal article title?

Michael Wilmot  1:32  
Sure. The title of a paper it was accepted hasn't been through the publishing process, yet. It's still in press. But it's called agreeableness and its consequences, meta analytic review of the quantitative evidence.

Matt Waller  1:47  
Okay. And what's the name of the journal?

Michael Wilmot  1:50  
Its personality and social psychological review.

Matt Waller  1:53  
Which is a top top journal

Michael Wilmot  1:56  

Matt Waller  1:57  
very high impact

Michael Wilmot  1:58  
premier journal in Personality and Social Psychology, publishing theory papers and meta analyses, primarily.

Matt Waller  2:06  
I'm going to delve into those some of those things that most people won't know about, like meta analysis, what that means, etc. But I want to back up for a minute. Because agreeableness is one of the five traits of personality, I believe, is that correct?

Michael Wilmot  2:27  
It is. And, you know, maybe, maybe we ought to just take a brief step back further and just talk about what is personality to kind of give, that'd be great selves and have a foundation. So when we're talking about personality, we're talking about individual differences in the way people think, feel, behave and are motivated in different situations and across time. Now, people are very different and do different things at different times. So we have to come up with a way to like research personality. So the trait has been the most predominant mode of doing this research. So personality traits refer to relatively stable patterns of that thinking, feeling behaving and being motivated. When you come into contact with general classes of stimuli across time and situations, so there's a bit of a descriptive part in an explanatory part of personality. The descriptive part is kind of a probabilistic description of how people act in public. You know, it's like we're observers from the outside looking in. It's been described by some as people's reputation, their character, what do they do? How do they tend to act? Are they kind? Are they rude? Are they extroverted? Are they quiet? So that's kind of the descriptive part. The explanatory part refers to it's kind of shorthand, really, we don't really know what's going on in the brain, we're studying that. But it's the underlying psychological processes that are responsible for generating that thinking, feeling and behaving associated with that trait. So causal mechanisms and processes underlying the psychological functioning in the brain. Finally, from an applied perspective, we can think about personality as a characteristic of human capital resources that can be leveraged for business advantage. And so that is kind of my orientation to looking at personality. I'm interested in how personality traits are associated with variables broadly defined to success at work.

Matt Waller  4:25  
Very interesting. So would you mind before we get into agreeable agreeableness? Tell us what, what are the traits of personality?

Michael Wilmot  4:34  
That's, and that is a good, good segue. So one of the grand challenges of personality science is the development of a comprehensive, and parsimonious taxonomy of human personality traits. taxonomies are important because they give researchers a shared language for describing entities under study. They allow us to measure and predict variables and act as the basis for our theory building. So work on a taxonomy of personality traits. It progressed in fits and starts over the mid 20th century. But in the late 80s and early 90s, a general consensus began emerging across researchers about a big five trade taxonomy. Sometimes it's called the Five factor model. But the big five taxonomy posits that individual differences in personality traits can be reasonably reasonably well described, and captured across five big dimensions. The first is emotional stability, or its Converse neuroticism. The next is extraversion. The third would be conscientiousness, fourth, openness, or openness to experience. And then the fifth is agreeableness. This taxonomy's been really, really powerful. The subsequent research shows that these type traits emerge across the sexes, races, ages, inventories, languages, cultures, indicative of the robustness and generalizability of the Big Five trade taxonomy. So this big five taxonomy is arguably the most important contribution of personality psychology to the wider behavioral sciences. And after it's kind of consensual adoption, research began to explode.

Matt Waller  6:19  
Well, you know, you mentioned that taxonomies can be helpful for researchers, but I would argue they're also helpful for managers and leaders, for sure know, anything I mean, I, you know, my area of research is more supply chain management. But I know, for example, when you listen to managers talk about certain kinds of costs, or certain kinds of forecasts, or forecast errors, etc, etc. If if they understand the taxonomies, it's very easy for them to communicate, and then to figure out what the root cause of the problem is, or where the opportunity is, etc, etc. It's almost like if you don't have a taxonomy, you really can't communicate very accurately.

Michael Wilmot  7:11  
You need to name a thing. I mean, if you go back to the very first or second chapter of the Hebrew Bible, what was the first task of Adam was to name all the animals and then given a name, that's what they were called. And you could make sense of them, you could communicate about them, it's the same thing we're still doing today in science. So one of the primary functions is description, what what is the thing, and once we know what it is, we can have an agreement about it. And then we can talk, discuss, predict, try to control etc.

Matt Waller  7:38  
What's really neat about the research on personality, as you say, it's, it's relatively recent, that there's, you know, they verified that these are the five characteristics of or traits of personality. But the other interesting thing is that you can measure them, they're your measurement of those personality traits are reliable in the sense that you can measure them at different times with different cultures, etc, etc. And you get similar results.

Michael Wilmot  8:16  
Yes, it is. That's what makes it fantastic. Of course, it's not going to be perfect. No, you've got self ratings, which is predominantly actually, it's exclusively what I reviewed in this paper, but you can also assess personality from the lens of the other person that other ratings. And there's a reasonable amount of convergence between what you say about your personality, and what your friend says, or your coworker says, or your boss says, now they are going to have some unique perspectives on you and your personality that you don't have. For instance, you might think you're a lot more agreeable or extroverted then others might think they might think you're a bit of a jerk. So there may be some lack of consensus there. But in general, though, when people are trying to give honest responses, there's a decent amount of convergence. So it's very interesting. 

Matt Waller  9:06  
It really is, you know, you mentioned extraversion and introversion. I've known people leaders, that other people think oh, so and so is an extrovert. But they just don't know the person very well. Because when they're in a leadership spotlight, yeah, they seem like an extrovert. But if you get to know them, you know, no, they train themselves to do certain things. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. A lot of times when people go through the Big Five, for some reason, that one trait that you called emotional stability, which I like that term for it. But a lot of times I hear people say the opposite of that neuroticism, so they'll be saying, you know, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism. It seems odd to pick that into the scale.

Michael Wilmot  10:03  
Exactly. Yeah, you want to kind of use the the bright side of the polls, versus the opposite. Now neuroticism or emotional stability, it's important as an important function. It's primarily is threat awareness. So it's about being vigilant. I mean, whether you're talking about living on the plains of Africa or today, I mean, there are certain threats that we encounter. And we need to be aware. And that's predominantly what the negative emotion system is for is to trigger threat awareness, and you need to adapt or be aware of it. And you know, this is getting a bit far afield, but it converges there is study, there's research, pretty substantive on animal personality, and the Big Five personality traits can generally be observed. And animals with the exception of conscientiousness, Primates are the only ones that there's evidence of conscientiousness. And the reason is conscientiousness has to do with working towards non immediate goals and a lot of animals, you know, they don't use tools, some of them do, but like, they're not building things that human beings are. And they're not working towards abstract goals. But that's beyond my area of expertise. I used to try to focus on people and in work settings, but it's fun to kind of see some of that other research to see what's going on in other fields of psychology. 

Matt Waller  11:25  
Well, I'm glad we're talking about personality before we get into agreeableness. Since agreeableness is a part of it, I'd like to talk just briefly, since you're an expert, about conscientiousness. You know, there was a colleague I've worked with, who I think would score high on conscientiousness. And I noticed that when he's faced with decisions, that affect other people in a substantial way, it's hard for him to sleep at night, for example, maybe a performance review. You know, if you're really high in conscientiousness, it can cause problems for you. It can make it hard to sleep sometimes.

Michael Wilmot  12:13  
Yeah, I've, I've done research in conscientiousness, I'll talk about my dissertation itself, because that's kind of where all this came from in a moment. But I did have a paper up very similar to this agreeableness, paper reviewing everything we know about conscientiousness, it's entitled, a century of research on conscientiousness, at work, and it's just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and some great figures, it's pretty short. I think folks might be interested in that, I mean, supplements really, really long if you really want to get in the weeds. But it provides some nice little details or themes about conscientiousness. And I could see how, you know, you do care about order and predictability. And those those matter. I would it sounds to me though, also, like your friend or colleague, maybe also higher on agreeableness too, you can be higher on both of these traits, because, yes, do the right thing but also cares about other people. Sometimes, if someone were to high unconscious or high in conscientiousness, but low on agreeableness, they might be more focused on the orders, goals without a concern and the systems without a concern for the people that are impacted by them.

Matt Waller  13:23  
So now, let's shift gears to agreeableness. What is agreeableness?

Michael Wilmot  13:29  
So it's difficult to talk about personality traits are these big five constructs because they're big. They're big in terms of abstractness. Conceptually, they're kind of a bit murky. So we have indicators or facets of them. So I guess the way I'd be describing agreeableness is it's a broad construct, which generally concerns motivation to maintain positive relationships with others and to work well with others. So it includes important characteristics such as altruism, sympathy, empathy, cooperativeness, honesty, and modesty. So I think you know that that's good to know those, you know, descriptors, but it's probably best to have like a prototype. So the prototypical agreeable person would be someone who's sympathetic and considerate of feelings, and perspectives. They tell the truth, they're supportive of others. And because of all these things, they arouse liking and other people, agreeable people just are likable. People, like agreeable people in general. By comparison, the prototypical disagreeable person is critical, skeptical, hostile, condescending or even manipulative of others. So those are two contrasts.

Matt Waller  14:46  
So you were talking earlier about, you know, describing a trait versus looking at its causal effects and so forth. What is your research here focused on?

Michael Wilmot  15:04  
That's a great question. So I'm interested in how people self report their personality. And then what types of work relevant and life relevant criteria, these self report ratings predict, I primarily do my research at a meta analytic level. So I, I do meta analyses, and we can talk about what a meta analysis is to, I think that would be helpful. And then I doing second order reviews. So that is I'm reviewing meta analyses. So when the meta analytic literature gets so big, you need to do a review of those. And that's what this agreeableness paper was, in addition, it is a subset actually, it's a piece of my dissertation, a dissertation, I looked at all the big five traits. And my work the past few years has been publishing single papers on a single trait. So got a paper on extraversion in the Journal of Applied Psychology one conscientiousness previously discussed. And currently the third one is on agreeableness.

Matt Waller  15:59  
You know, I, of course, didn't know what a meta analytic study was, until I was in my Ph. D. Program A long time ago back in the dark ages. I don't think there were as many meta analyses, back then it was kind of a new thing. And to think of a second order meta analysis, meta analysis of meta analyses, to be honest, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know that existed until I read through your paper shows you how far behind I am.

Michael Wilmot  16:34  
Well, it I guess, in your defense, it's only been relatively recently, less than the past 10 years, that second order meta analytic methods have been proposed and used in the behavioral sciences. And frankly, they haven't got a lot of traction yet, because there's not a lot. Not a lot of use for them yet, there's not that many literature's that can be second order meta analyzed. So, but I'll describe what meta analysis is real briefly. This arguably one of the most significant methodological statistical advances of the late 20th century meta analysis is a statistical technique for integrating quantitative research findings across studies. So it allows us to synthesize a vast literature of sometimes contradictory findings, you let's say you've got two variables, that's, let's say, looking at agreeableness, and job performance. You know, in some studies, there may be a positive relationship, others a negative relationship, others zero or nil type of relationship. But what you want to know is what's the true relationship between these two variables. So what meta analysis can allow you to do is you can combine those studies can weight them by the sample size, larger sample studies are more reliable. And you can come up with a precise point estimate of the relationship between two variables, as well as true variability around estimates of that study. So, for instance, agreeableness has a stronger relationship with performance in certain occupations than others. This is another paper that we published earlier this year. agreeableness is best in healthcare, that's where one of its strongest relationships is make sense. Because agreeableness is a trait about helping people and healthcare is it involves that skill set, a portrait predictor, for instance, in management, and sales, were just a little bit more individual focused and generating goals and productivity, which is not necessarily the bag, so to speak of agreeableness,

Matt Waller  18:30  
I want to really nail this down a little bit further in research. For those of you that aren't researchers, if you study the relationship between two variables, using a statistical method, many times you will come up if you'd like, for example, if you're looking at the effect of A on B, you come up with a parameter, you estimate a statistical parameters, you collect data, you estimate this parameter, the parameter may be positive, it may be negative. That's one thing. And it may be statistically significant, and it might not be statistically significant. But you can have a study done in one study, and it can estimate it to be positive and statistically significant. But there's something called false positives and false negatives. And because of that, you a certain one study may suggest a positive relationship. But if you looked at hundreds of studies, that false positive can shake out and you realize that no, it's a negative relationship. And so meta analyses help get over that problem to some degree, don't they?

Michael Wilmot  19:51  
Absolutely. They can account for chance, the vagaries of chance and sampling error, which is what you're talking about, and it's statistically removes it and advanced methods can also correct for other sources of error including input imprecise measurement or measurement error, as well as range restriction. You can, you might have a restricted population and you want to generalize to a truer or a broader population, and you can make corrections for that as well. And then finally, we talked about second order methods, that you can cumulate meta analyses that are independent of one another, that's important, important assumption and meta analyses, these point estimates need to be independent of one another.

Matt Waller  20:30  
So back to the example I just gave, you could have one study looking at the relationship between A and B, the estimated parameter, then you have another study that estimates that same thing, maybe a bigger sample size may be different age range. And then you have another study that does it. And then another study. So the first order meta analysis is combining all of those, correct?

Michael Wilmot  20:53  
That's correct. And let's say then, that someone was doing all those same things. But let's say they're doing it in Europe, or Africa, and with a different set of, you know, different population, because those studies are all independent. And let's say they're published in different journals, you could combine those two meta analyses together, and then you would have a cross cultural, you know, second order meta analysis, wouldn't have to be cross cultural. But that's kind of the general gist of it. They're independent of one another. And as a result, you can combine them because they're unique pieces of information.

Matt Waller  21:25  
So second order meta analyses, where you're combining a bunch of meta analyses. They do they is it true that they tend to be more accurate?

Michael Wilmot  21:35  
I'd say yes, you're coming up with better point estimates, and you're counting for yet another level of sampling error. And they call it second order sampling error. And that would be the, you know, if you got to think about, you've got this broad universe of studies, and you're like sampling, you know, you take a handful of them, all right, and then you've met to analyze those. It's better than just one, you know, the picking one study to come up with the estimate. So you got a handful, but they're still you might not have captured the full population of that universe. So the second order meta analysis will allow you to come up with more, excuse me more precise parameter estimates by accounting for some of that leftover sampling error, second order sampling error.

Matt Waller  22:18  
So your dissertation, did second order meta analyses on all the big five?

Michael Wilmot  22:26  
Yeah, so here's a little bit of the context, I think it'll be helpful. So with the development of the Big Five trait taxonomy, researchers across the behavioral sciences, were able to include measures of personality in their studies. But the study that really galvanized applied personality research was a meta analysis of the Big Five personality traits and job performance. So you previously, because of the inconsistent relations, personality, because there was no meta analysis, there was people were down, literature was down on personality as a useful tool for prediction, selection, etc, at work. So in 1991, Barrick and Mount published a highly acclaimed meta analysis of the Big Five and job performance and showed that yes, personality when it's organized, according to this Big Five trait taxonomy has predictive validity. For work, relevant variables, in particular conscientiousness, showed a substantive effect size of point two zero may sound small, but it's pretty darn good for the behavioral sciences. And this study was like the study that launched 1000 studies, I just looked at the citation count this morning, and it's approaching 14,000 citations. So it's, it ranks number one or two, depending the most highly cited publications in Applied Psychology. So the success, the success of research explosion, as a result of this study, you know, prompted further Big Five meta analyses and so many, more than 300 of these big five meta analyses have been published across the behavioral sciences, just looked yesterday. The topics obviously, are ranged widely, health, well being, marital satisfaction, leadership, academic performance, job attitudes, career success. And so yes, there's like 300, or more studies, but a lot of these studies include multiple variables. So the cumulative body of evidence is probably approaching 1000 different variables of study. So on one hand, I mean, this is this evidence, this is testimony to the scientific importance in the utility of the Big Five model. But on the other hand, again, the number and diversity of studies calls out for further quantitative review. And that review, should, in my opinion, accomplish two goals one is a comprehensive summary of what we know about personality and its impacts. And the second is an integration and a synthesis of those results to open up new research and theory building. So that was the subject of my dissertation. Its personality and its impacts across the behavioral sciences. But it's too big to publish in one scholarly article. So I've kind of broken it down into publishing papers based on individual traits. Yes, there's big five traits. But you can get into lower order traits to more specific facets, and you can go down further. So think about personality as this big pyramid. It's a hierarchically oriented taxonomy. But some of these relationships are complex, they, they're, it's just not as simple. They're not all these big five traits. They're not uncorrelated, they're correlated with one another. So there's a complex structure involved. So it's makes it challenging and interesting. Sometimes it hasn't gotten as much focus as others. So I thought that the readers personality, social psychology review would be particularly interested in the study. So that's why I targeted that journal.

Matt Waller  25:52  
So you're saying that these big five traits are correlated with one another?

Michael Wilmot  25:58  
Yes, they have small to moderate correlations. So you can actually look at a higher order structure of two traits above the Big Five that my research involves that as well. And then you can look at trades below. So personality, so I talked talked about earlier, these big five traits, or the, it's sometimes referred to as the five factor model. So a factor analysis, you know, pulls out the variance that is shared across the number of items. So it's like the overlap. So there's, there's stuff below, so to speak, and there's a little bit above, as well, and some relationships in between. I'll give you a practical example. extraversion and agreeableness have a facet that they share that is approximately 50% associated with extraversion and 50%, associated with agreeableness. And it's a characteristic called warmth. Warmth, it's a person who is usually outgoing, and kind and compassionate. So this characteristic, people, it comes across as charisma people, like people who are sociable and warm and kind and willing to go out and meet people. Other traits are correlated as well. But that's one that's applicable to agreeableness.

Matt Waller  27:15  
You found eight general themes that describe agreeableness characteristic functioning, what is characteristic functioning?

Michael Wilmot  27:25  
In this paper, we summarize results from 142 meta analyses. And with relation to 275 variables, it's approximately 1.9 million participants close to 4000 studies. So there's a lot of variables, right. So we wanted to come up with an organizational framework that made sense. So we had this organizational framework of 16 conceptual categories that would provide, oh, you know, like a drawer so to speak with which places agreeableness shows the strongest relationships. So we had some having to do with attitudes, maybe attitudes at work are attitudes with relationships with other people, performance, leadership, etc. So we organize them in these attitudes to be in these drawers, these conceptual categories. And, but at the same time, we've noticed that there were themes of relationships that span these categories, too. So we had a rational scheme up front. And then we did kind of an inductive empirical dive into these 275 variables. So what we did was, we tried to find variables with an effect size greater than point, point two. And then those those represented the, about the top third of the distribution and said, Okay, what are the strengths, you know, like a strength finder, so to speak of agreeableness. And that's what we mean by the characteristic functioning. It's really its themes, what themes characterize the functioning of agreeableness across all these different variables. And we came up with a pretty parsimonious subset of eight.

Matt Waller  29:05  
Would you mind talking a little bit about those? Right?

Michael Wilmot  29:09  
So the first theme, I think that that's probably the most outstanding too that comes across from agreeableness is self transcendence. So, people high in agreeableness have aspirations for self directed growth as a person that kind of want to grow up, but also out, there's a motivation to show care and concern for other people. As well as engaging in self transcending practices. Practically speaking, agreeableness is a trait that's the most highly correlated with religiousness and spirituality.

Matt Waller  29:38  
So one quick question. So you said that the first theme is that and probably the most outstanding is that agreeableness is related to self transcendence and I took from what you said that self transcendence me the person aspires to grow. So they might, they might maybe exercise a lot or read and study. Right? Yes. And you're even as you said, have spirituality religiousness?

Michael Wilmot  30:17  
Yeah, I would say it's more along those lines, it doesn't have super strong relationships with physical health variables definitely has some with mental or psychological functioning. We'll talk about that in the next theme. But yeah, this is mostly just a desire to be a better person, I want to be a better person I want to grow, I want to develop and I want to learn. But I also want to transcend myself I want to help others. willingness to forgive falls into this self transcendence category.

Matt Waller  30:46  
Leaders have different kinds of capabilities. One of them that comes to my mind is how strategic they are right? Some leaders are stronger in strategic directions, some are stronger and influence, some are stronger in relational building, some are stronger in execution, etc, etc. But that strategic one, I have not studied this, but I would just based on what you said, I would have a hunch that agreeableness agreeableness might actually help the strategic portion a little bit.

Michael Wilmot  31:26  
I don't know, at least from the empirical data, it is important for leaders to be at least somewhat agreeable. If you're if you're too agreeable. You're a pushover. Right? Right. If you're disagreeable people might resent you or don't want to follow you. People kind of want to leaders like are an archetype, right? You really people want to follow the person they aspire to be a lot of the times, and someone who's kind and respectful, but also can make the hard choices, but does take into account other people that that's gonna be who they're more likely to follow it, you can boil a lot of leadership behavior research down into two general dimensions, two factors, so to speak. And the one has to do with pursuing the goals. You know, of a team, we've got to pursue our objectives. So it'd be like your task orientation. But the other part is the agreeableness part, it's a, it's relational orientation, you've got to lead a team, you got to keep them working together, you got to help them out, consider them support them individually. And so there's often a dynamic tension between the two, because sometimes you got to get stuff done, but people need help. Or sometimes people need to buck up why and get stuff done, too. So it's a complicated job. So agreeableness is an important part of leadership, strategically, I don't know. But I would say cognitive ability is going to be a lot more important there. Which is, has small relationships, but it's generally unique and independent and has its own research area. Regarding to person with regards to personality. The second theme would be contentment, this is having to do with your attitudes. People who are agreeable, tend to be more likely to accept life as it is, their ability to successfully adjust to new contexts and institutions to they report experiences of satisfaction across different life domains, whether it's work or home, they tend to be more satisfied, mentally, healthy and happy. And again, just willing to accept life as it is this contentedness could be adaptive, as you could say, and maybe maybe it could also be a bit unadaptive at times, you might rationalize something that's hard or difficult. But in general, it's this this theme of contentment. Another one would be relational investment. This is I mean, it's pretty simple. But people who are agreeable, are more motivated to cultivate, maintain positive relationships with others, at work at home, with supervisors, with peers, with followers, with clients. And as well, they experienced the mutual support and satisfaction of those positive relationships. So people who are agreeable invest in relationships, and they care about those, those personal interactions. But the next one is related to team working. Agreeable folks work well on teams. So individuals who are higher in agreeableness have higher empathy abilities. So you have the capacity to kind of understand what's going on in somebody else's mind. The theory of mind is what they call it in the psychological research. So you have this empathic capacity to coordinate goals with others, and ability as well as willingness to cooperate effectively. So regardless of the roles, again, it can be leaders, followers, supervisors, to to accomplish these collective objectives. Folks who are agreeable like to work with other people, especially if they're agreeable to and teams that are more agreeable, as a whole team tend to function better teams that are comprised of like some agreeable and some disagreeable people, that heterogeneity can be disadvantageous for team performance.

Matt Waller  34:59  
That's really interesting.

Michael Wilmot  35:01  
A couple others work investment. So people, it's interesting folks who are agreeable, they are willing to expend effort at work and do quality work and show responsiveness to the work environment and they want to adapt and grow in their careers. The other thing that's interesting, though kind of counterbalance is this is this sixth theme, there tend to be a lower results emphasis. So people who are more agreeable, they're tend, they tend to be less likely to set goals and produce individual results and output. They're also more likely to rate others performance with greater leniency. Again, it's, it's not so much that these people don't want to work hard, we already established that they do. They just prefer to do it in teams, or in the right situation or occupation, like health care, or clerical and customer service roles are also conducive to individuals who are more agreeable. And then the final two have to do with how people who are into agreeable behave in institutions. So the seventh theme is social norm orientation, we're calling it so what we mean by that is, has the greater individuals who are higher in agreeableness have a greater sensitivity to and respect for, and willingness to behaviorally comply with social roles and norms. And they also importantly, avoid rule breaking, and wrongdoing and counterproductive behavior. And as a result, they, they fit well in institutions and organizations. And that that brings us to the last name social integration. Because these people work well, their content, they help other people, their team working there, they're more likely to be successfully integrated into social roles and institutions. And the more that they're less likely to engage in delinquent behavior and to social behavior, and they're less likely to leave, they're more likely to stay, because they receive some of the benefits of becoming a part of that institution, you know, they have a role they have support, both socially. And in terms of resources. So those are the big eight themes that are associated with agreeableness, or what we're calling it's characteristic functioning. And we hope that these can be explored and studied and kind of can represent a research agenda. You know, what are what are the boundary conditions or limitations? Or where can these themes be of benefit, where might be an opportunity or a situation where the, the advantage may become a disadvantage?

Matt Waller  37:36  
So first of all, ask you two brief questions to conclude our discussion. One is where are you wanting to go with your research on agreeableness in the future?

Michael Wilmot  37:48  
Well, I, if actually, I want to continue it looking at the lower order trait levels. We didn't talk about it so much on this podcast for time constraints. But I also looked at several lower order traits associated with agreeableness. And they have different relationships, but they have not explored a lot of the empirical relations to the variables that comprise these themes. So there's a whole, there's a whole, like, several pockets of research that are just that needs to be examined. So these themes explored at the level of agreeableness is facet or constituent level traits is one. But before that, my next project relatedly is doing the same thing, but with emotional stability. So that's what I'm working on this this semester. And as well as we're also looking at different profiles across these big five traits. And that's another project I'd be happy to talk about later, as it nears its completion. So that's kind of what I'm working on next, lower order traits in trade of emotional stability and thinking about these personality traits, the Big Five, all together, not just looking at them individually, but as a as a collective.

Matt Waller  38:59  
Interesting. Well, I'm looking forward to hearing about that. So finally, what based on your research on this and what you know about it? What advice do you have for managers and leaders?

Michael Wilmot  39:15  
That there's a lot of advantages associated with agreeableness. But it's an unsung trait. Often agreeableness people take advantage of people who tend to be nice and kind, because they can. And as a manager, it's gonna be important that you look out for and support these individuals who tend to be more agreeable, and they might not be as likely to stand up for themselves. That's kind of the the weakness associated with self transcendence. You can be so other oriented that you might not advocate for yourself. So would be to help them and to be an advocate for them. Relatedly so there's a lot of advantages associated with agreeableness. The main disadvantage though is it tends to be have weak relationships or negative relationships with career success variables, promotions, and salary. And again, this may be the, this may be a lack of willingness to broach some of those difficult conversations and negotiate with managers. So I would encourage you to look after your more agreeable employees and help them they're not going to be likely to promote themselves. So promote them on their behalf. That would go a long ways to making them feel good, and also to helping their careers.

Matt Waller  40:33  
That's great advice. Michael, it's been a pleasure to have you on the be epic podcast and really find your research interesting.

Michael Wilmot  40:46  
Thank you very much. I'm just happy to be here and hope that it can be of use to the podcast listeners.

Matt Waller  40:53  
On behalf of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, I want to thank everyone for spending time with us for another engaging conversation. You can subscribe by going to your favorite podcast service and searching be epic. B E EP IC

Matt Waller

Matthew A. Waller is dean emeritus of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and professor of supply chain management. His work as a professor, researcher, and consultant is synergistic, blending academic research with practical insights from industry experience. This continuous cycle of learning and application makes his work more effective, relevant, and impactful.

His goals include contributing to academia through high-quality research and publications, cultivating the next generation of professionals through excellent teaching, and creating value for the organizations he consults by optimizing their strategy and investments.