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The bright and dark side of altruism: Demographic, personality traits, and disorders associated with altruism. (2014)

“Interpersonal Sensitivity (Agreeableness) and Inquisitiveness (Openness) correlated most strongly with altruism. Two darkside disorders (Excitable, Reserved) correlated negatively but two others (Imaginative and Dutiful) correlated positively.”

Adrian Furnham & Luke Treglown, University College London.
Gillian Hyde & Geoff Trickey, PCL Tunbridge-Wells.

Journal of Business Ethics, March 2016, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 359–368

This study aimed to see which “bright” and “dark” side traits were related to altruism.

“… whilst five of the seven bright side traits were positively associated with altruism two in particular were most strongly correlated.

“It is hardly surprising that Interpersonal Sensitivity (or Agreeableness) was the strongest correlate. …. It is interesting however that leaders with low Agreeableness scores seem to be more successful at work, possibly because of their ability to confront poor performance and make tough decisions.

“…The second most important ‘bright side’ correlate was Inquisitiveness, (Openness). It maybe that inquisitive people are more curious about people, more attentive to their inner feelings and more psychological healthy and mature. This may make them more finely attuned to those around them ….

“The ‘dark’ side analysis suggested that two disorders are negatively (Excitable, Reserved) and two positively (Imaginative and Dutiful) related to Altruism.

“Excitable people are those with Borderline symptoms which suggest they are highly moody and unstable very much ‘blowing hot and then cold’ toward people. Their disappointment and distrust of others probably explains their low Altruism. Reserved people, who are essentially Schizoid, also report low Altruism because they take little interest in other people and tend to shun them.

“Whilst it is no surprise that Dutiful people (Dependent Personality Disorder) who are eager to please express more Altruism. It is less clear why Imaginative (Schizotypal Personality Disorder) people also are more Altruistic unless they find it particularly interesting. It could be a lack of cynicism and general curiosity in Imaginative people.”

Read the full paper here: The bright and dark side of altruism

Or access a pdf here: Furnham et al (2016)

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