Humble People More Likely To Help Than Arrogant People, Study Finds

Humble people are not just nice to be around, they're also the more reliable ones to help when you're in a jam (compared with arrogant people), a new study suggests.

The study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, is one of just a few that links a personality trait with being more or less likely to help others, researchers said.

"While it certainly seemed possible that humble people might be more focused on other people's needs and thus more willing to help a peer in need, it also seemed possible that traits associated with humility (like modesty) might discourage helping a peer in need," study researcher Jordan LaBouff, Ph.D., who now works at the University of Maine but conducted the research while at Baylor University, told HuffPost.

For the study, LaBouff and his colleagues defined humility as "an inner quality that seems to be composed of an accurate view of the self (knowing and respecting strengths and weaknesses), intellectual openness, and relatively low focus on the self." Because measuring humility is different (an arrogant person might say they are humble, for instance) researchers used different techniques to help address some problems with self-reported humility.

The research included three studies -- in the first, researchers found that study participants who self-identified as humble were also more likely to say that they are helpful, even when traits like agreeableness were controlled for.

In the second study, researchers had the participants listen to a radio broadcast about a student who would have to miss some classes because of an injured leg, and then had them report how many times they would meet with the injured student over the next three weeks to provide help.

The humble participants said they would offer their help more than the other, less-humble participants, researchers found. MSNBC reported that they offered their help twice as much as participants who are arrogant.

The third study also showed that self-identified humble people were more likely to help someone in need, even when there was little pressure to help.

"The most surprising thing to me was that relatively humble people were most likely to help in situations where their motives for doing so were most likely to be altruistic," LaBouff said. "That is, humble people were the most likely to help a peer in need even when no one would know whether or not they helped."

Similarly, a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that feelings of nostalgia could also boost how willing we are to give of ourselves. That study, conducted by researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Southampton, showed that feeling nostalgic is linked with charitable giving (both financial donations and volunteerism).