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Humble persons are more helpful than less humble persons: Evidence from three studies


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Connections between humility and other prosocial qualities led us to develop a humility–helpfulness hypothesis. In three studies, humble persons were more helpful than less humble persons. In Study 1, participants (n = 117) completed self-report measures of humility, the Big Five, and helpfulness. In Study 2, participants (n = 90) completed an implicit measure of humility and were presented with an unexpected opportunity to help someone in need. In Study 3, participants (n = 103) completed self-report and implicit measures of humility and were presented a similar helping opportunity. Humility and helpfulness correlated positively when personality and impression management were controlled. Humble participants helped more than did less humble participants even when agreeableness and desirable responding were statistically controlled. Further, implicit humility uniquely predicted helping behavior in an altruistic motivation condition.
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The Journal of Positive Psychology
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Humble persons are more helpful than less humble
persons: Evidence from three studies
Jordan Paul LaBouff a , Wade C. Rowatt b , Megan K. Johnson b , Jo-Ann Tsang b & Grace
McCullough Willerton b
a Department of Psychology, University of Maine, 356 Little Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA
b Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97334,
Waco, TX 76798-7334, USA
Available online: 20 Dec 2011
To cite this article: Jordan Paul LaBouff, Wade C. Rowatt, Megan K. Johnson, Jo-Ann Tsang & Grace McCullough Willerton
(2011): Humble persons are more helpful than less humble persons: Evidence from three studies, The Journal of Positive
Psychology, DOI:10.1080/17439760.2011.626787
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The Journal of Positive Psychology
2011, 1–14, iFirst
Humble persons are more helpful than less humble persons: Evidence from three studies
Jordan Paul LaBouff
*, Wade C. Rowatt
, Megan K. Johnson
, Jo-Ann Tsang
and Grace
McCullough Willerton
Department of Psychology, University of Maine, 356 Little Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA;
Department of Psychology and
Neuroscience, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97334, Waco, TX 76798-7334, USA
(Received 27 September 2010; final version received 21 September 2011)
Connections between humility and other prosocial qualities led us to develop a humility–helpfulness hypothesis.
In three studies, humble persons were more helpful than less humble persons. In Study 1, participants (n¼117)
completed self-report measures of humility, the Big Five, and helpfulness. In Study 2, participants (n¼90)
completed an implicit measure of humility and were presented with an unexpected opportunity to help someone
in need. In Study 3, participants (n¼103) completed self-report and implicit measures of humility and were
presented a similar helping opportunity. Humility and helpfulness correlated positively when personality and
impression management were controlled. Humble participants helped more than did less humble participants
even when agreeableness and desirable responding were statistically controlled. Further, implicit humility
uniquely predicted helping behavior in an altruistic motivation condition.
Keywords: helping; implicit; humility; altruism; behavioral measure; personality; traits
Helping one another in times of need is a cornerstone
of quality human relationships. Several dispositional
and situational variables influence whether one person
helps another (Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, & Schroeder,
2005). Our focus in the present studies was on
dispositional or personality predictors of helpfulness.
In each study, we tested the humility–helpfulness
hypothesis (i.e., that humble persons are more helpful
than less humble persons).
Most previous personality research on helping and
altruistic motivation to help has focused more on
cognitive or affective predictors, such as empathy,
nurturance, and personal responsibility (Batson,
Bolen, Cross, & Neuringer-Benefiel, 1986; Batson
et al., 1989; Carlo, Eisenberg, Troyer, Switzer, &
Speer, 1991; Midlarsky, Jones, & Corley, 2005;
Rushton, Chrisjohn, & Fekken, 1981) than on
higher-order personality traits such as the Big Five.
One research team that did use a broad measure of
personality (the Multidimensional Personality
Questionnaire) found that positive emotionality
accounted for unique variability in self-reported help-
fulness when negative emotionality and constraint were
statistically controlled (Krueger, Hicks, & McGue,
2001). Do other higher-order personality traits account
for variability in helping as well?
Research on the traditional Big Five revealed
associations between trait Agreeableness, helping
behavior (Graziano, Habashi, Sheese, & Tobin, 2007)
and other indicators of reciprocal altruism (Ashton,
Paunonen, Helmes, & Jackson, 1998). Those familiar
with Costa and McCrae’s (1992) model may recall that
altruism and modesty are two of the six facets of
Agreeableness. According to Costa and McCrae
(1992), high scorers on the modesty subscale are
‘humble and self-effacing’ whereas low scorers, ‘believe
they are superior people and may be considered
conceited or arrogant by others’ (p. 18).
In the five-factor model, humility appears to be
subsumed by the larger Agreeableness factor.
However, more recent research has indicated that
humility was part of a unique sixth factor of person-
ality (Ashton et al., 2004; Lee & Ashton, 2004; Saucier,
2009). Our primary purpose was to explore whether the
understudied trait of humility correlated with helpful-
ness (Study 1) and whether humble persons were more
helpful than less humble persons when presented with
an unexpected opportunity to help (Studies 2 and 3).
Humility defined
At present, there is no consensus among researchers
about how to define humility (Davis, Worthington, &
Hook, 2010), nor is there a gold-standard measure.
*Corresponding author. Email:
ISSN 1743–9760 print/ISSN 1743–9779 online
ß2011 Taylor & Francis
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For our purposes, we define humility as the psycho-
logical quality of being humble and measure humility
relative to arrogance or conceit (Rowatt et al., 2006).
This definition of humility fits in part with a recent
relational model (Davis et al., 2011) in which the
humility of another person is judged by others in terms
of global humility (‘He or she is a truly humble
person’), superiority (‘He/she strikes me as
self-righteous’), and accurate view of self (‘He/she is
self-aware’). Other scholars have theorized that humil-
ity includes an accurate understanding of self
(Emmons, 1999), intellectual openness, and relatively
low self-focus (Ashton & Lee, 2005; Exline et al., 2004;
Owens, 2010; Roberts & Wood, 2003; Tangney, 2000,
2009; Tice, Butler, Muraven, & Stillwell, 1995).
We agree that humility involves low self-focus and an
accurate view of self, but did not assess this facet
Humility is also conceptually similar to modesty,
but they are not identical (Exline et al., 2004). Modesty
is outwardly observable (e.g., modest dress), whereas
humility is more of an inner quality. Nevertheless, the
two constructs are sometimes assessed together as
humility–modesty (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).
Another measure of humility conceptually overlaps
with honesty (Lee & Ashton, 2004). Facets of honesty–
humility include fairness, sincerity, greed-avoidance,
and modesty. In Ashton and Lee’s model, honesty is
indicated by sincerity and fairness whereas humility
is indicated by greed-avoidance and modesty.
In the three studies presented, we operationally
defined humility with implicit and explicit measures
that contrasted humility with arrogance (Rowatt et al.,
2006) or superiority (Davis et al., 2011). We also used
humility items from the HEXACO-PI (Lee & Ashton,
2004) because it has generated more empirical research
than any other self-report measure to date. However,
there is certainly merit in other humility measurement
approaches that conceptualize humility as a personal-
ity judgment by others (Davis et al., 2011) or combine
the construct with modesty (Peterson & Seligman,
2004) or honesty (Lee & Ashton, 2004).
A theoretical basis for humility–helpfulness
Ashton and Lee (2007) were some of the first scholars
with empirical data to suggest what functions humility
serves and to theorize why humans have various
degrees of humility. They posited that humility repre-
sents a component of reciprocal altruism (Trivers,
1971). Low humility – marked by egotistical, preten-
tious, or narcissistic tendencies – was theoretically
linked with exploitation of others (Ashton & Lee,
2001). If humility is a component of reciprocal
altruism, then it could be positively related to
There are a few other reasons why we theorized
that dispositional humility and helping would be
connected. Some conceptual facets of humility
(e.g., low selfishness, fair-mindedness; Ashton & Lee,
2005; Exline & Geyer, 2004) indicate humble persons
may be more likely to help a person in need. Persons
with a holier-than-thou attitude (or a ‘noisy ego’,
Exline, 2008), arrogance (Rowatt et al., 2006), or sense
of superiority (Davis et al., 2011) may be more likely to
blame misfortune on others and use their resources to
defend the self. Whereas more humble people (or a
‘quiet ego’, Exline, 2008) may have more attention to
devote to others and may be willing to offer more of
their time and resources to a person in need (Lee &
Ashton, 2004).
Humility has not been the focus of as much
research as the traditional Big Five personality dimen-
sions, probably because of its recent classification as a
facet of personality (Ashton et al., 2004; Lee & Ashton,
2004) or virtue (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). However,
there is some empirical support for the theoretical
connections between humility and helping.
Self-reported humility correlated positively with pro-
social qualities like forgiveness and gratitude (Rowatt
et al., 2006). Relational humility correlated inversely
with unforgivingness and revenge (Davis et al., 2011).
With regard to prosocial behavior, persons high in
humility have been more cooperative in economic
games (Hilbig & Zettler, 2009). Trait humility has also
correlated negatively with antisocial characteristics,
such as delinquency and unethical business decisions
(Ashton & Lee, 2008a). Despite these advances in the
field, more research is needed to determine whether
humble persons are more helpful than less humble
The humility–helpfulness hypothesis
The primary hypothesis tested was that humble
persons are more helpful than less humble persons
(i.e., the humility–helpfulness hypothesis). There are
several possible methods to assess humility, each with
relative strengths and weaknesses (Davis et al., 2010).
Across three studies, we used a multi-method approach
including implicit and explicit measures of humility
both to investigate the relative contributions of these
measures and to assess the relationship between
humility and more widely studied constructs such as
In Study 1, self-report measures of humility,
helpfulness, and theoretically related constructs were
administered. It was predicted that self-reported
humility would correlate with self-reported helpfulness,
even when statistically controlling for other personality
2J.P. LaBouff et al.
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factors (i.e., Big Five) and impression management
(IM). In Studies 2 and 3, individuals came to a
laboratory and were presented with an unexpected
opportunity to help a student in need. It was predicted
that humble persons would be more helpful than less
humble persons. It was also predicted that humility
would account for unique variability in helping when
other known correlates of helping (e.g., empathy,
distress, and agreeableness) were statistically
Study 1: Does trait humility correlate with
When attempting to ‘gauge the broad social impor-
tance of a personality dimension’ such as humility,
Ashton and Lee (2008b) suggested, ‘that cross-sec-
tional studies based on self-reports... can give a likely
indication of the links between personality and out-
come variables, as long as those criteria are assessed
by measures that possess strong content validity’
(p. 1956). Others have used this approach with success,
but did not include a measure of trait humility
(cf. Ashton et al., 1998; Krueger et al., 2001). As
such, we selected and administered reliable and valid
self-report measures of humility and helpfulness. So
that we could check whether a possible association
between humility and helping was due to other factors
(e.g., agreeableness and desirable responding), it was
important to include measures of the Big Five and IM.
It was predicted that humility would account for
unique variability in helpfulness when other dimen-
sions of personality and IM were controlled
Participants and procedure
A total of 117 undergraduate students (95 women and
22 men; mean age ¼19 yrs) attending a private univer-
sity in the southwest United States completed an online
survey for course credit. The sample reported their
race/ethnicity as 75.2% White, 8.5% Hispanic/Latino,
7.7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% African-American,
and 2.6% ‘other’.
Helpfulness. The 20-item Self-Reported Altruism Scale
(Rushton et al., 1981) was administered to measure
helpfulness (¼0.81, means and standard deviations
are reported for all variables in Table 1). Participants
rated how often they performed specific helpful
behaviors (e.g., ‘I have done volunteer work for a
charity’). Each item was rated on a five-point scale
(0 ¼never, 4 ¼very often). Because items assessed
frequency of performing helpful behaviors, but not
the underlying motivation, we interpreted scores on
this scale to indicate helpfulness but not altruistic
Humility. The 16 humility items (¼0.88) from the
32-item Honesty–Humility subscale of the HEXACO
Personality Inventory were administered (Ashton &
Lee, 2005; Lee & Ashton, 2004).
Example items were,
‘Some people would say that I have an over-inflated
ego’ (reverse-keyed), and ‘I am an ordinary person who
is no better than others’. Each item was rated on a
five-point scale (1 ¼strongly disagree, 5 ¼strongly
Big Five personality dimensions. The 44-item Big Five
Inventory (John & Srivastava, 1999) was used to assess
Extraversion (¼0.84), Agreeableness (¼0.76),
Conscientiousness (¼0.76), Neuroticism (¼0.78),
and Openness (¼0.78). This measure was selected, in
part, because it tapped the broader domain of agree-
ableness without specific reference to humility.
Impression management. The IM subscale of the
Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding
(Paulhus & Reid, 1991) was also administered
Table 1. Correlations and descriptive statistics for self-report measures of personality and helpfulness (Study 1).
Measures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Mean SD
1. Helpfulness 2.72 0.45 0.81
2. Humility 0.27** 3.56 0.63 0.88
3. Extraversion 0.23* 0.06 4.41 1.07 0.84
4. Agreeableness 0.16
0.37** 0.07 5.22 0.82 0.76
5. Openness to experience 0.04 0.17
0.10 0.18 4.98 0.88 0.78
6. Conscientiousness 0.23* 0.32** 0.08 0.34** 0.04 4.86 0.87 0.76
7. Neuroticism 0.10 0.01 0.18
0.22* 0.01 0.24** 4.16 1.06 0.78
8. IM 0.21* 0.36* 0.02 0.39** 0.13 0.47** 0.22* 0.27 0.15 0.67
Note: *p <0.05, **p<0.01, and
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(¼0.67). Each item was rated on a seven-point scale
(e.g., ‘I have some pretty awful habits’ (reversed-
keyed); 1 ¼not true, 7 ¼very true). Participants
received one point for each response of 6 or 7 and 0
for each response 5.
First, a series of correlations were computed. Humility
was the strongest correlate of self-reported helpfulness
(r¼0.27, p¼0.003) followed by extraversion, consci-
entiousness, and IM (Table 1). Humility correlated
positively with agreeableness and conscientiousness.
Humility, conscientiousness, and agreeableness corre-
lated positively with IM.
To examine whether the relationship between
humility and helpfulness was an artifact of desirable
responding or another personality dimension we con-
ducted a hierarchical regression analysis with Big Five
personality dimensions entered in step one, IM entered
in step two, and the humility measure entered in the
third step. In further support of the humility–helpful-
ness hypothesis, humility accounted for unique vari-
ability in self-reported helpfulness (¼0.22, p¼0.029)
when the Big Five and IM were simultaneously
statistically controlled (Table 2). Extraversion also
remained a significant predictor of helpfulness. No
other personality variable was significantly associated
with helpfulness in this analysis.
This study documents that humility is uniquely asso-
ciated with self-reported helpfulness. Others have
found that humility accounts for unique variability in
negative qualities when the Big Five are statistically
controlled (i.e., inverse correlations with materialism,
delinquency, social adroitness, unethical business deci-
sions, and sociosexuality; Ashton & Lee, 2008b).
Taken together, humility appears to be a positive
quality that may contribute to improved social
Although the unique association between humility
and helpfulness is promising, Study 1 has some
limitations. First, self-reports of past helping require
accurate memory. An individual could forget a helping
event or accidentally recall an incident that did not
happen. Either act of misremembering would affect the
self-reported frequency of helping. A related problem
is that people could self-report being more humble or
helpful than they really are. On the other hand, humble
persons could be reluctant to report being humble. For
example, when a small group of Cistercian monks and
nuns were surveyed (n¼37), only 5% reported that
they were very successful exhibiting humility (Smith,
2006). Narcissists, in contrast, sometimes create the
appearance of humility to mask their arrogance or
grandiose sense of self (American Psychiatric
Association, 2004).
In an attempt to circumvent these limitations, two
additional behavioral helping studies were conducted.
In studies 2 and 3, a laboratory situation was created
in which a participant could volunteer time to help a
student in need. By observing participants in a
controlled lab environment, we could obtain a prox-
imal measure of helping that did not rely on memory
and which made self-presentation more costly and thus
less likely. In studies 2 and 3, we also included an
implicit measure of humility, in part because implicit
measures are more difficult to fake than self-report
(Fiedler & Bluemke, 2005).
Study 2: Implicit humility and helping behavior
In a chapter about humility theory and research,
Tangney (2002) concluded that, ‘humility may repre-
sent a rare personality construct that is simply
unamenable to direct self-report methods’ (p. 415).
She may be correct. Fortunately, other measurement
approaches exist. For example, one research team
developed an implicit, reaction-time measure of humil-
ity relative to arrogance (Rowatt et al., 2006). The
basic assumption was that a humble person would
associate humility trait terms more quickly with the self
than arrogant trait terms. The implicit measure of
humility correlated with self-reported humility and
narcissism (inversely) but was not correlated with IM
Table 2. Multiple regression of helpfulness on personality
dimensions (Study 1).
Step one 0.090
Extraversion 0.24 2.64 0.009*
Agreeableness 0.02 0.178 0.859
Conscientiousness 0.16 1.66 0.099
Neuroticism 0.04 0.373 0.710
Openness to experience 0.02 0.267 0.790
Step two 0.112
IM 0.16 1.61 0.110
Extraversion 0.23 2.51 0.014*
Agreeableness 0.04 0.407 0.685
Conscientiousness 0.12 1.20 0.232
Neuroticism 0.02 0.198 0.843
Openness to experience 0.01 0.148 0.882
Step three 0.151
Humility 0.22 2.21 0.029*
Extraversion 0.24 2.63 0.010*
Agreeableness 0.09 0.883 0.379
Conscientiousness 0.09 0.909 0.365
Neuroticism 0.05 0.537 0.592
Openness to experience 0.00 0.016 0.988
IM 0.09 0.909 0.365
Note: *Predictor is significant at the p<0.05 level, Step two
¼0.022, p¼0.110, Step three DR
¼0.039, p¼0.029.
4J.P. LaBouff et al.
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(Rowatt et al., 2006). The implicit measure of humility
was also internally and temporally consistent like many
similar implicit measures (Nosek, Greenwald, &
Banaji, 2007) and explained unique variability in
course grades even when statistically controlling for
self-reported narcissism, conscientiousness, and impli-
cit self-esteem.
To test more carefully the humility–helpfulness
hypothesis, a better indicator of helping was needed
than the self-report helpfulness scale used in Study 1.
Each participant was presented with an unexpected
opportunity to help a student in need. To do this, we
used portions of a lab procedure developed by Toi and
Batson (1982). In short, participants listened to a
recorded interview in which a student talked about his
or her need for help. After listening to the recording,
participants were presented with an opportunity to
help the student by volunteering time. Would implicitly
humble persons help a student in need more than
implicitly less humble persons? Would a humility
main-effect persist when agreeableness was controlled?
A total of 95 introductory psychology students partic-
ipated in this study for course credit. During the
post-experiment interview/debriefing session, five par-
ticipants (5.3%) expressed a high degree of suspicion
concerning the manipulations. Data from these five
participants were omitted prior to Study 2 analyses.
Study 2 results were based on the final sample of 90
participants (59 women and 31 men; mean age ¼19
years). The self-reported ethnicity of the sample was
62% White, 15% Hispanic, 13% Black, and 10%
Measures and procedure
Each participant worked individually. The opportunity
to help a fellow student was presented within an
experiment titled ‘Radio Broadcast Evaluation’. In this
phase of the study, participants were told that they
would be evaluating a recording that may be broadcast
later on the campus radio station. Participants then
listened to the recorded interview of a same-sex
introductory psychology student (Carl or Carol) who
injured his or her leg and, as a result, could not attend
class regularly (cf. Toi & Batson, 1982). Carol/Carl
indicated that without some assistance reviewing lec-
ture notes for her or his introductory psychology
course, she or he would likely be unable to continue at
the university.
After listening to the radio broadcast, each student
was presented with an opportunity to help Carol/Carl.
Participants were asked how many hours over the next
three weeks they would be willing to meet with Carol/
Carl to provide aid. Responses were scored to reflect
the total number of hours offered over a three-week
period (e.g., a response of ‘three hours a week’ was
scored as 9).
Next, participants took part in a seemingly
unrelated study about personality and self-concept.
In this phase, participants completed the self-report
measure of agreeableness described in Study 1 (John &
Srivastava, 1999) and a standard Implicit Association
Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998)
adapted to assess humility relative to arrogance
(Rowatt et al., 2006). In the critical blocks of the
Humility IAT, participants were instructed to associate
as quickly as possible humility or arrogance trait terms
with the self or other. An implicitly humble person
should more quickly associate ‘humble’ with the self
than ‘arrogant’ with the self. Stimulus words used in
the Humility IAT were as follows: humility (humble,
modest, tolerant, down-to-earth, respectful, and open-
minded); arrogant (arrogant, immodest, egotistical,
high-and-mighty, closed-minded, and conceited); self
(I, me, my, mine, and self); others (they, them, their, it,
and other). Standard IAT scoring procedures were
used to compute the D
measure with built-in error
penalties described by Greenwald, Nosek, and Banaji
(2003, pp. 208, 214). The scoring algorithm included
data from both practice and test blocks and eliminated
trials >10,000 ms. The resulting D
score was used as
an indicator of implicit humility (relative to arro-
gance). Below we refer to this construct simply as
implicit humility.
As mentioned, it was predicted that
implicitly humble persons would volunteer more time
to help a fellow student in need than would implicitly
less humble persons.
Results and discussion
Implicit humility was weakly associated with greater
time offered to help a peer in need (r¼0.11, ns). Since
the IAT is a relative measure and we were most
interested in the difference between participants who
were relatively more humble and relatively less humble,
a median split on the Humility IAT score was
computed. Persons with higher scores (0.395;
n¼45) were included in the high implicit humility
group and those with lower scores (0.394; n¼45)
were included in the low implicit humility group. An
ANOVA was computed to determine whether implic-
itly humble persons offered more help than less
implicitly humble persons.
As predicted, participants in the high implicit
humility group volunteered significantly more time to
help their fellow student (M¼9.23 h, SD ¼8.76) than
did participants in the low implicit humility group
(M¼5.85 h, SD ¼5.90), F(1,89) ¼4.60, p¼0.035,
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¼0.050. The same pattern was found when agree-
ableness was added as a covariate. That is, persons in
the high implicit humility group volunteered signifi-
cantly more time (Adjusted M¼9.23 h, SD ¼8.76)
than did participants in the low implicit humility group
(Adjusted M¼5.38 h, SD ¼5.74), F(1,87) ¼6.79,
¼0.075. No gender difference in helping
was found. The two-way interaction between gender
and humility was not significant.
Taken together, Studies 1 and 2 reveal a clear
connection between dispositional humility and help-
fulness. Persons who self-reported humility indicated
being more helpful in the past (Study 1). Those who
scored above the median on an implicit measure of
humility spontaneously offered more time to help a
fellow student in need than those who were implicitly
less humble, even when agreeableness was statistically
controlled (Study 2). The finding that humble people
are helpful could be an artifact of desirable responding,
but that seems less likely in light of the Study 2 finding
that implicitly humble people actually offered more
time to help, and the Study 1 finding that self-reported
humility and helpfulness still correlated positively
when desirable responding was statistically controlled.
One relative limit to Study 2 was that participants
did not have any information about whether other
classmates had helped the student in need. A participant
could assume that others had already helped or offered
to help. Assuming that others already helped could
reduce the apparent need of the ‘victim’. Alternatively,
assuming that others were helping could also create
perceived pressure to help. Such perceived action or
inaction of other helpers or ‘bystanders’ has been shown
to evoke egoistic or altruistic motivations and these
motivations influence helping (Batson et al., 1989). In a
final test of the humility–helping hypothesis, we investi-
gated whether the perceived action or inaction of others
interacted with dispositional humility to predict help-
ing. This also allowed us to investigate whether humility
was associated with egoistic or altruistic motivations for
Study 3: Possible motives for helping
Why are humble people more helpful than less humble
persons? Recall that Ashton and Lee (2007) theorized
that humility represents a component of reciprocal
altruism. Could trait humility be associated with
altruistic motives for helping (cf. Batson et al., 1986)?
Altruistically motivated helping is given ultimately
to benefit the person in need, not the self. Egoistically
motivated helping, in contrast, is given to gain
personal benefits (Batson, Fultz, & Schoenrade,
1987). Batson and his colleagues searched for person-
ality correlates of altruistic and egoistic helping. Trait
self-esteem, ascription of responsibility, and empathic
concern correlated positively with egoistically moti-
vated helping, but not with altruistically motivated
helping (Batson et al., 1986). Extrinsic religious orien-
tation also correlated negatively with altruistically
motivated helping; whereas quest religious orientation
(viewing religious doubts as positive, openness to
religious change) correlated positively with altruisti-
cally motivated helping (Batson et al., 1989). To our
knowledge, no core personality trait predictor of
altruistically motivated helping has been discovered.
We theorized that the sixth component of person-
ality, which we refer to as humility, could be a
personality trait associated with altruistic motives for
helping. A conceptual basis for this prediction was that
humble persons are more unselfish, concerned for
others in need, and willing to help than are arrogant
persons. We predicted that trait humility would cor-
relate positively with helping, especially in a situation
where few people are offering help to the person
in need.
Hypotheses and predictions
We selected the ‘Katie Banks’ procedure to examine
prosocial motivations for helping (Batson et al., 1989;
Coke, Batson, & McDavis, 1978; Graziano et al.,
2007). The key to evoking prosocial motives in this
procedure was the action or inaction of other potential
helpers. Participants were led to believe that two of
seven or five of seven previous participants had
volunteered to help a fellow student named Katie.
According to Batson et al. (1988, 1989), if most peers
have volunteered help, participants could anticipate
social or self-censure if they violate the norm to help.
Help offered in this high-pressure condition is thought
to be motivated egoistically to avoid censure for not
helping. However, if most peers have not volunteered
help, then the belief that participants themselves
should help may be weakened, and participants could
anticipate feeling less negative emotions if they do not
help. Since pressure to help is limited, help offered in a
low-pressure condition is thought to be altruistically
motivated. Batson et al. (1989) predicted that a
personality trait related to an altruistic motive for
helping would be positively correlated with helping
under low-pressure.
Using the previous research as a guide (Batson
et al., 1988, 1989), we formulated the humility altruistic
motivation hypothesis: if humble people are altruisti-
cally motivated to help out of concern for an individual
in need, then dispositional humility should be posi-
tively related to helping, but only in the low-pressure
condition. In contrast, if the relationship between
helping and humility is due to egoistically motivated
self-interest to avoid censure for not helping, then
dispositional humility should be positively related to
6J.P. LaBouff et al.
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helping in the high-pressure condition. It was predicted
that dispositional humility would be positively corre-
lated with helping when an altruistic (but not egoistic)
motive was evoked.
If a humilityhelping correlation was found in the
low-pressure condition, it would be important to
examine whether humility accounts for unique vari-
ability in helping when other known predictors of
helping behavior were statistically controlled, such as
states or traits of empathy and distress (Batson,
O’Quin, Fultz, Vanderplas, & Isen, 1983; Eisenberg
& Miller, 1987). If it does, this would provide further
evidence for the prosocial nature of humility, and its
potential importance as a personality trait.
Participants were 103 introductory psychology stu-
dents (73 women and 30 men; mean age ¼19 years).
This sample was somewhat racially diverse (65%
White, 13% Black, 11% Hispanic, 8% Asian, and
3% ‘other’).
Measures and procedures
Participants completed the Humility IAT (described
in Study 2). Participants then completed a self-report
survey with personality measures followed by the
helping opportunity. Two self-report measures of
humility were administered. First, seven semantic-
differentials were rated on a seven-point scale between
the following end-labels: humble/arrogant, modest/
immodest, respectful/disrespectful, egotistical/not
self-centered, conceited/not conceited, intolerant/toler-
ant, closed-minded/open-minded (Rowatt et al., 2006).
These seven pairs of terms closely parallel words used
in the Humility IAT. Second, participants completed
a 10-item humility–modesty measure [‘I never brag
about my accomplishments’ (1 ¼very much unlike me,
5¼very much like me)] developed by Peterson and
Seligman (2004).
Participants completed the same IM
measure detailed in Study 1. The Interpersonal
Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983) was used to assess
empathic concern, personal distress, and perspective-
taking so that we could examine whether humility
predicted helping when trait empathy, distress, and
perspective-taking were statistically controlled. State
empathy and distress were measured after participants
heard about the student in need.
An unexpected opportunity to help. As mentioned,
we used the ‘Katie Banks’ procedure (Coke et al.,
1978) to investigate prosocial motivations for helping
(Batson et al., 1989, pp. 879–880). Participants (indi-
vidually) listened to two pilot broadcasts said to be
developed for the campus radio station. The Bulletin
Board broadcast announced campus activities. The
News from the Personal Side (NPS) broadcast was an
interview with Katie Banks, a fictitious college senior
whose parents and sister had recently died in a
car accident. Katie was now struggling to support
two surviving siblings and to complete college.
Immediately after the NPS broadcast, participants
rated emotion terms (1 ¼not at all, 9 ¼extremely;
Batson et al., 1987), from which we created indicators
of state empathy (i.e., moved, compassionate, warm,
softhearted; ¼0.77) and state personal-distress (i.e.,
distressed, alarmed, upset, disturbed; ¼0.84).
Manipulation of social pressure/prosocial motives. Prior
to arrival in the lab, participants were randomly
assigned to a high-pressure/egoistic (n¼52) or
low-pressure/altruistic condition (n¼51). In both
conditions, participants received a schedule form with
lines for eight responses on which participants could
offer to volunteer help for Katie. The first seven spaces
were already filled in with the handwritten names of
(fictitious) previous participants. In the high-pressure
condition, five of the seven had volunteered to help
Katie: three volunteered 1–2 h, one volunteered 3–4 h,
and one volunteered 7–8 h. In the low-pressure condi-
tion, only two of the seven had helped: one had
volunteered 1–2 h, the other 3–4 h.
Dependent variables. Like Batson et al. (1989), the
schedule form included space for participants to
provide their name and phone number, to indicate
whether they wished to help Katie (0 ¼no; 1 ¼yes),
and if so, to circle the number of hours of help they
wished to volunteer: 0, 1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8 or 9–10
(coded 0–5). Participants were asked to complete the
schedule form and seal it in an envelope to be delivered
to the person organizing help for Katie. After partic-
ipants finished filling out the schedule form, each
completed a survey with a question about whether
Katie deserved help (1 ¼not at all, 9 ¼extremely).
Finally, participants completed a post-experiment
interview during which they were probed for suspicion
and carefully debriefed.
Overall, participants rated Katie’s need to be great
(M¼7.98, SD ¼1.79), and her need was perceived to
be just as great when five of seven (M¼8.14,
SD ¼1.48) or two of seven previous participants had
volunteered help (M¼7.82, SD ¼2.06), F<1.
Additionally, participants in the high-pressure condi-
tion noticed that a higher percentage of participants
volunteered help (M¼56.73, SD ¼19.25) than in the
low-pressure condition (M¼35.78, SD ¼14.36),
F(1,102) ¼39.06, p¼0.000,
The Journal of Positive Psychology 7
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Helping Katie
Overall, 72% of participants indicated that they would
help Katie. On average, participants volunteered to
help approximately 1–2 h. Across conditions, positive
correlates of helping were state and trait empathy, state
(but not trait) personal distress, and the humility
aggregate variable (Table 3).
A higher percentage of participants in the
high-pressure condition volunteered to help Katie
(81%) than in the low-pressure condition (63%),
¼4.13, p¼0.05, ¼0.20. Likewise, participants in
the high-pressure condition said they would help Katie
longer (M¼1.15, SD ¼0.83) than those in the
low-pressure condition (M¼0.82, SD ¼0.74),
F(1,102) ¼4.56, p¼0.035,
Humility and helping
As in Study 2, we examined whether dispositionally
humble persons volunteered more time to help than
less humble persons. Data were condensed prior to
analysis. A self-reported humility aggregate variable
was created by standardizing and summing the
self-report measures of humility. To examine the
unique contribution of each predictor, a hierarchical
linear regression was then computed entering
self-reported humility in step one, implicit humility in
step two, and finally the social-pressure condition
(high, low) in step three. Consistent with studies 1 and
2, self-reported humility and social pressure condition
were unique significant predictors of helping behavior.
Across both conditions, implicit humility was not a
significant predictor of hours of help offered (Table 4).
We also examined the percentage of participants
who indicated that they would or would not help in
each condition. In the low-pressure (altruistic motive)
condition, a significantly higher percentage of humble
persons (defined as above the median on the aggregate
measure of humility) volunteered to help (76.9%) than
less humble persons (47.8%),
¼4.45, p<0.05,
¼0.30. In the high-pressure (egoistic motive) condi-
tion, the percentage of humble persons who volun-
teered to help (87.0%) did not differ from the
percentage of less humble persons who volunteered
to help (69.6%),
¼2.04, p¼0.28.
A moderated regression approach (Cohen, Cohen,
West, & Aiken, 2003) was also used to examine the
effect of dispositional humility and social pressure on
the total number of hours volunteered to help. For this
analysis, the aggregate humility variable was centered
and multiplied by the pressure condition variable to
create the appropriate interaction term. Then, the
number of hours helped was regressed on the centered
humility variable, pressure condition, and interaction
term. The overall model was significant (R
F(3,102) ¼3.80, p¼0.013). As shown in Figure 1,
participants volunteered more hours in the high
pressure than low pressure condition (Batson et al.,
1989). Consistent with studies 1 and 2, humility was
positively associated with number of hours helped.
The pressure–humility interaction was not statistically
significant (¼0.35, t¼1.08, p¼28).
To further investigate the possibility that humility
engenders altruistically motivated helping, we followed
the within-cell correlation approach used by Batson
et al. (1986, 1989). As shown in Table 5, in support of
the humility-altruistic motivation hypothesis, each mea-
sure of humility significantly correlated positively with
helping in the low-pressure condition (r’s ¼0.27–0.37),
but not in the high-pressure condition (r’s¼0.05–
0.15). Further, when examining only the altruistic
motivation condition, only the implicit humility mea-
sure was a unique predictor of hours of help offered
even when controlling for socially desirable responding
(Table 6). Trait humility is significantly related to
helping in the altruistic motivation condition but not in
the egoistic motivation condition.
Next, we explored whether dispositional humility
accounted for unique variability in helping above and
beyond that due to empathy, distress, or perspective-
taking. Again, for ease of comparison with previous
altruism research in which correlations were reported
(Batson et al., 1986, 1989), we focused our analyses on
the low-pressure condition. To reduce the number of
analyses, the humility aggregate variable was used in
the 10 regression analyses (Table 7). Within the low-
pressure condition, dispositional humility accounted
for unique variability in helping above and beyond
variability due to state or trait empathy or distress or
trait levels of perspective-taking.
Overall, humble persons offered more time to help a
student in need than less humble persons did. This
finding replicates the patterns observed in studies 1 and
2 (i.e., that humble persons are more helpful than less
humble persons). We also found that a higher percent-
age of humble persons than less humble persons
volunteered to help in the altruistic motivation condi-
tion. Within this condition, dispositional humility
correlated positively with amount of time offered,
even when state and trait empathy, state and trait
personal distress, and trait perspective taking were
statistically controlled. Further, humility measured
implicitly was a stronger predictor of help offered in
the altruistic motivation condition than self-reported
humility. This finding combined with the demonstra-
tion that humility measured implicitly accounts for
unique variability in helping behavior when
self-reported personality predictors are controlled
(Study 2) and data from previous studies (Rowatt
et al., 2006) indicates that implicit and explicit
8J.P. LaBouff et al.
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Table 3. Correlations and descriptive statistics for measures of dispositional humility, prosocial motives, and helping (Study 3).
Measures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Mean SD
1. Humility aggregate
0.35 1.79 0.58
2. Humility–arrogance 0.87** 5.36 0.63 0.60
3. Humility–modesty 0.85** 0.52** 3.27 0.50 0.71
4. Implicit humility 0.22* 0.10 0.03 0.36 0.32 0.88
5. State empathy 0.28** 0.25** 0.14 0.20* 5.82 1.70 0.77
6. State personal distress 0.17
0.10 0.13 0.09 0.57** 4.90 1.88 0.84
7. Trait empathic concern 0.46** 0.46** 0.28** 0.23* 0.35** 0.23** 2.95 0.58 0.79
8. Trait personal distress 0.00 0.13 0.14 0.13 0.16 0.17
0.04 1.65 0.72 0.83
9. Trait perspective-taking 0.38** 0.46** 0.17
0.15 0.06 0.00 0.40** 0.23* 2.63 0.55 0.64
10. BIDR-IM 0.33** 0.39** 0.22* 0.03 0.04 0.02 0.30** 0.20* 0.21* 0.29 0.17 0.71
11. Hours willing to help 0.20* 0.15 0.18
0.11 0.29** 0.29** 0.30** 0.09 0.17
0.99 0.80
12. Willing to help (0 ¼no; 1 ¼yes) 0.27** 0.18
0.21* 0.17
0.26** 0.23** 0.30** 0.14 0.13 0.20* 0.78** 0.72
The humility aggregate variable was created by first standardizing, then summing, the measures of humility–arrogance, humility–modesty, and implicit humility. In row 12,
the percentage of people who indicated ‘yes’ when asked if they would help (72%) is shown in the column labeled ‘Mean’.
*p <0.05, **p<0.01 and
The Journal of Positive Psychology 9
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measurement strategies in humility may inform and
complement each other rather than overlap. Future
research should continue to clarify the relationships
between implicit and explicit measurement approaches
and continue to examine potential differences in
behavioral or motivational correlates of these mea-
sures. This fits with the finding of Batson et al. (1989)
that a dispositional trait related to an altruistic motive
for helping (in their case, quest religious orientation)
would positively correlate with helping under low-
pressure (when others were inactive). Humility did not
correlate with the amount of time volunteered in the
egoistic motivation condition. We did not find a
statistical interaction between humility (high, low)
and pressure/motive on the amount of time offered
to help. As in Study 2, we found that humble persons
were more helpful than less humble persons, regardless
of social pressure. To our knowledge, this is one of the
first laboratory studies to document a correlation
between a personality dimension (i.e., trait humility)
and altruistically motivated helping. Although every
act of helping is not motivated by altruism, humility
could be a personality trait that is linked with some
altruistically motivated acts of helping. Until future
research replicates this finding, it should be interpreted
with caution.
General discussion
Three studies provide clear evidence that humble
persons are more helpful than less humble persons.
Humility correlated with self-reported helpfulness even
when Big Five personality dimensions and IM were
statistically controlled (Study 1). Humble persons were
more generous with their time than less humble
persons (Studies 2 and 3). The unique feature of
Study 2 was that an implicit measure of humility was
used. The unique contribution of Study 3 was that
humility correlated positively with time volunteered to
help even when known predictors of helping behavior
such as empathy, distress, and perspective-taking were
Study 3 further demonstrated that implicit
measures of humility may be better at predicting
helping that is more altruistically motivated.
Figure 1. Regression of humility on hours willing to help in high and low pressure conditions.
Table 4. Multiple regression of hours offered to help on
humility measures and condition (Study 3).
Step one 0.043
Self-reported humility 0.21 2.02 0.046*
Step two 0.052
Self-reported humility 0.20 1.99 0.050*
Implicit humility 0.10 0.964 0.338
Step three 0.090
Self-reported humility 0.22 2.19 0.031*
Implicit humility 0.11 1.05 0.298
Social pressure manipulation 0.21 2.09 0.039*
Notes: *Predictor is significant at the p<0.05 level, Step Two
¼0.010, p¼0.338, Step three DR
¼0.038, p¼0.079.
10 J.P. LaBouff et al.
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In three studies, humility assessed using a combi-
nation of measurement approaches, including explicit
and implicit measurements, predicted unique variabil-
ity (over and above that predicted by other facets of
dispositional personality traits) in a complex human
behavior: helping a peer in need. This
multi-method model suggests not only that humility
as a trait is uniquely predictive of both self-report and
behavioral measures of helpfulness, but that an implicit
measure of humility predicts helping behavior over and
above that which is predicted by traditional self-report
measures and in situations that evoke a more altruistic
motive for helping. This multi-method approach could
be expanded by the inclusion of other novel
approaches to measuring humility which have been
suggested recently, such as the relational humility
approach, theorized by Davis et al. (2010, 2011). Given
the present data, a combination of measurement
approaches could also clarify the contributions of
humility toward prediction of theoretically relevant
Limitations and caveats
Although the humility–helping connections docu-
mented are intriguing, we would be wise to exercise
intellectual humility with regard to the scope and
magnitude of our findings. The use of college student
convenience samples, although very common, is a
limitation. Research with college students lacks the
depth and richness of research with people who risked
their lives to save another person being persecuted
(cf. Oliner & Oliner, 1988) or who intervened to help
after an actual accident (Bierhoff, Klein, & Kramp,
1991). Helping opportunities that occur in a lab are
also less risky or costly than some that occur in the
Table 5. Associations between measures of dispositional humility, prosocial motives, and helping (Study 3).
Pressure condition
Overall Low pressure High pressure
DV: Will you help Katie? (1 ¼No; 2 ¼Yes)
Humility aggregate variable
0.27** 0.41** 0.13
Humility–modesty 0.21* 0.37** 0.08
Humility–arrogance semantic differentials 0.18
0.29* 0.09
Implicit humility 0.17
0.30* 0.06
State empathy 0.26** 0.27* 0.22
State personal distress 0.23** 0.18 0.25
Trait empathy 0.30** 0.27* 0.39*
Trait personal distress 0.14 0.06 0.18
Trait perspective taking 0.13 0.14 0.19
DV: How many hours will you help Katie?
Humility aggregate variable
0.20** 0.37** 0.08
Humility–modesty 0.18
0.27* 0.15
Humility–arrogance semantic differentials 0.15 0.31* 0.04
Implicit humility 0.11 0.34* 0.05
State empathy 0.29** 0.32* 0.23
State personal distress 0.29
Trait empathy 0.30** 0.32* 0.33*
Trait personal distress 0.09 0.11 0.22
Trait perspective taking 0.17 0.28* 0.15
The humility aggregate variable is the sum of humility–modesty, humility–arrogance, and implicit
humility (summed after each variable was standardized). Analyses of non-humility associates of helping
behavior are presented for illustrative purposes and for comparison with previous research and should be
interpreted with caution.
*p<0.05, **p<0.01, and
Table 6. Multiple regression of hours offered to help on
humility measures in the altruistic motivation condition
(Study 3).
Step one 0.135
VIA humility 0.19 0.986 0.330
Humility semantic
0.19 1.03 0.310
BIDR-IM 0.13 0.899 0.373
Step two 0.256
Humility IAT 0.35 2.61 0.012*
VIA Humility 0.23 1.29 0.205
Humility semantic
0.16 0.880 0.384
BIDR-IM 0.10 0.717 0.478
Note: *Predictor is significant at the p<0.05 level,
¼0.121, p¼0.012.
The Journal of Positive Psychology 11
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field and could introduce demand characteristics.
However, multi-trait, multi-method basic research in
a controlled lab environment complements less con-
trolled survey research that happens after an act of
helping. Furthermore, volunteering to help a fellow
student in need may correspond more closely to
everyday mundane acts motivated by reciprocal altru-
ism than rare instances to be a first responder or heroic
rescuer (cf. Midlarsky et al., 2005).
Humility appears to be an important personality
quality related to helping others in need. Trait humility
could be associated with other personal, social, or
organizational behaviors, such as self-control, aggres-
sion (inversely), prejudice (inversely), or leadership
(Collins, 2001). We encourage other personality
researchers to include a brief measure of humility in
their studies and to examine whether humility accounts
for unique variability in these or other psychological
processes or social behaviors.
This work is supported by a grant from the John Templeton
1. Readers with additional interest in definitions and
measurement of this complex construct may see Davis
et al. (2010, 2011) for reviews.
2. The honesty–humility subscale was designed by Ashton
and Lee (2005) to measure four facets: sincerity, fairness,
greed-avoidance, and modesty. To assess humility inde-
pendently from honesty, we used the greed-avoidance
and modesty facets of Honesty–Humility but not the
sincerity or fairness subscales.
3. IATs have been utilized extensively to measure various
aspects of personality and self-concept (cf. Schnabel,
Asendorpf, & Greenwald, 1990), for a review of the
validity of the IAT, see Greenwald, Poehlman,
Uhlmann, and Banaji (2009).
4. During the post-experiment interview/debriefing session
of Study 3, 11 of 114 participants (9.6%) expressed high
suspicion about the cover story. Five suspicious partic-
ipants were in the high-pressure condition and six in the
low-pressure condition. Data from these 11 participants
were omitted prior to Study 3 analyses. Study 3 results
were based on the final sample of 103 participants (52 in
the high-pressure condition and 51 in the low-pressure
5. In general, correspondence between implicit and explicit
measures of constructs is somewhat variable (Hofmann,
Gawronski, Gschwender, Le, & Schmitt, 2005; Nosek,
2005). In this study, the implicit measure was loosely
associated with individual explicit measures of humility
but positively correlated with an aggregate explicit
measure (Table 3), consistent with Rowatt et al. (2006)
and a meta-analysis which revealed a 0.17 weighted
mean effect size between implicit and personality mea-
sures (Greenwald et al., 2009). Given that both implicit
and explicit measures appear to explain unique variabil-
ity in humility-related behaviors and the suggestion by
several researchers in the field to investigate multimodal
and supplemental measurement approaches to
self-report (e.g., Davis et al., 2010, 2011; Tangney,
2002), the inclusion of multiple measures allowed the
investigation of the relative contributions of different
measurement strategies while providing a broader over-
all measure of the construct in the aggregate humility
6. We note that our primary purpose was to investigate the
humility–helpfulness hypothesis, not mediators of this
relationship. Given that we did not know at the outset
whether a humility main-effect on helping would be
found, we did not speculate a priori about statistical
mediators of the effect. Like Krueger et al. (2001), we
examined whether a component of personality
accounted for unique variability in helping. After finding
the humilityhelpfulness connection, we simply tested
whether humility remained a significant predictor when
certain other qualities were controlled. Now that the
humilityhelpfulness link has been established, others
Table 7. Multiple regressions of helping on dispositional humility, empathy, distress, and perspective-
taking (within the low-pressure condition of Study 3).
Will you help? (0 ¼no; 1 ¼yes) Hours volunteered
Regression models tR
1. Humility 0.36 2.60* 0.19 0.30 2.11* 0.18
State empathy 0.16 1.14 0.23 1.63
2. Humility 0.36 2.46* 0.18 0.28 1.92
Trait empathy 0.13 0.89 0.21 1.41
3. Humility 0.39 2.90** 0.18 0.34 2.46** 0.17
State personal distress 0.11 0.81 0.18 1.31
4. Humility 0.41 3.06** 0.17 0.36 2.64** 0.14
Trait personal distress 0.07 0.55 0.10 0.71
5. Humility 0.44 2.88** 0.17 0.30 1.98* 0.15
Trait perspective-taking 0.06 0.37 0.14 0.91
Notes: Humility ¼humility aggregate variable. Two separate regression models are shown per row.
*p<0.05, **p<0.01 and
12 J.P. LaBouff et al.
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... Humility has also been associated with strengthening social bonds, promoting sacrifice for others, buffering and repairing social ruptures, leadership, and improved physical and mental health (Worthington Jr. et al., 2017a, b). Humility as a value also correlates with other positive attributes such as helpfulness (LaBouff et al., 2012), generosity (Exline & Hill, 2012), empathy, altruism, forgiveness, gratitude, and self-regulation (Worthington et al., 2017a, b). ...
... Relevant studies revealed a positive correlation between student academic achievement and humility (Rowatt et al., 2006;Meagher et al., 2015). LaBouff et al. (2012) also found that a teacher's level of humility was associated with the total number of hours they volunteered to help a student in need. There is also a cluster of empirical studies on humility in medical and counselling education which deals with preparing students with cultural competence to practice medicine and counselling in multicultural contexts (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998;Gruppen, 2014;Prasad et al., 2016;Kim, 2016;Butler et al., 2011). ...
... Teachers' understandings of humility are complex. Echoing recent international literature (Tangney, 2000;Exline & Geyer, 2004;LaBouff et al., 2012;Meagher et al., 2015), humility is predominantly regarded by the Chinese teachers as a positive moral concept associated with other positive characteristics such as respect and helpfulness. This challenges earlier philosophical conceptions of humility as self-abasement or low self-esteem and resonates with the contemporary international literature on humility as having clear recognition of capacities, knowledge, and skills. ...
Humility as a concept has recently received increasing scholarly attention in international scholarship. It has also been regarded as important for education traditionally in Chinese culture. However, no empirical research so far has examined Chinese people’s conceptualisations of humility in education and its cultivation in schools. Based on semi-structured interviews, this exploratory study examined urban teachers’ conceptions of humility and their experiences of cultivating humility in mainland Chinese schools. Our findings highlight the multiplicity and complexity of conceptualisations of humility and the challenges faced by the teachers in cultivating humility. The study also raises questions about the politics of practicing humility and the complex entanglements between moral values and social norms and relations, inviting more research to examine the complex implications of moral virtues that are promoted in schools and wider societies around the world. Despite their recognition of the potentially negative consequences of humility such as avoidance from competition and entailing emotional constraints, the teachers regarded humility as a predominantly positive moral concept important for learning, teaching, and teacher–student relationship. Meanwhile, they associated it with disciplinary dispositions such as being quiet, subtle, cautious, or dutiful. The teachers’ attempts to cultivate it among their students were highly contingent, however, due to various challenges, including a lack of teacher training and limited textbook contents on humility, the exam-orientedness of the Chinese education system, and the perceived individualistic dispositions of Chinese students.
... This implies that increasing momentary feelings of state humility in individuals who lack trait humility can potentially enable them to experience the benefits of trait humility (Ruberton et al., 2016). Such benefits include socially desirable and prosocial behaviours, improved interpersonal relationships, better academic outcomes, and strong leadership (Ashton & Lee, 2008;Hilbig & Zettler, 2009;LaBouff, Rowatt, Johnson, Tsang, & Willerton, 2012;Davis et al., 2010;Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013;Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski, 2005;Nielsen, Marrone, & Slay, 2010). Therefore, complementing trait humility research with a state-based approach is necessary to enable researchers to address essential theoretical and methodological questions surrounding humility (Kruse, Chancellor, & Lyubomirsky, 2017). ...
... While this relationship is theoretically sound, the lack of a scientific consensus on the definition of humility implies that other related traits, such as other-focus, can serve as potential mediators as well. The humility-helpfulness hypothesis states that those experiencing humility are more helpful than those in the neutral condition, as other-focus motivates people to devote more time and attention to those in need (Lee & Ashton, 2004;LaBouff et al., 2012). Amidst helping others, one's awareness of one's personal capabilities to render assistance is enhanced. ...
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[Published in The Undergraduate Research Journal of Psychology at UCLA] While it has been long posited that humility involves a higher self-judgement accuracy, there is no existing empirical evidence to support this proposition. In this study, participants were assigned to humility or neutral conditions and completed a logical reasoning task. Subsequently, they estimated their actual performance on the task (independent estimates), and that compared to their peers (relative estimates). Despite non-significant results, trends in the results indicated that the humility condition had higher independent and relative self judgement accuracy. These results demonstrate that inducing humility can produce greater self-judgement accuracy, thereby underscoring the role of humility in skill learning, goal-setting, and academic performance. Future research can utilize an enduring state humility manipulation and explore possible mediators of the relationship between humility and self-judgement accuracy.
... In this regard, Paine et al. (2015) state that leaders' humility has a potential contribution to consistent relationships and employee spiritual growth. Also, LaBouff et al. (2012) state that humility promotes empathetic and altruistic practices and behaviours among individuals. Therefore, it can be said that managers through humility can create an atmosphere of honesty, empathy and cooperation in the organisation. ...
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Organisations are increasingly involved in what they call ‘ethical dilemmas’, that is, the conditions under which wrongdoing and righteous deeds must be defined once again because the line between right and wrong has blurred more than ever. In general, human beings have special moral characteristics in the individual and personality dimension that shape their thoughts, speech and behaviour. It is possible that the same people in the same position and organisation could be affected differently, and their ideas, speech and behaviour affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation. Ethics can have positive or negative consequences at each organisational level. One of the effective factors on the occurrence of employees’ ethical behaviours is the role of spirituality in the work environment and humility of leaders. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of humility of Muslim leaders on the moral behaviours of followers and spirituality at work in Islamic society. The statistical population of the study was 370 Muslim employees of International Islamic University Malaysia. After distributing the questionnaires among the statistical population, 352 questionnaires were returned. The validity of the questionnaires was confirmed by the content validity method, and its reliability was confirmed by Cronbach’s alpha. In this research, the structural equation modeling approach and Amos software were used to analyse the data. All hypotheses were confirmed at a 95% significance level. The results showed that the humility of leaders has a positive and significant effect on spirituality in the workplace and work ethic of followers. Spirituality in the workplace has also a positive effect on employees’ work ethic. Contribution: It is recommended that the officials of organisations should pay attention to spirituality in the workplace and the humility of managers and supervisors towards employees in order to promote work ethics. Further, it can be concluded that organisations can increase the ethical behaviours of employees by promoting the components of organisational spirituality.
Demut wäre nicht erstrebenswert, wenn sie nicht messbare Effekte zeitigen würde. In den letzten zehn Jahren hat die Forschung in Hunderten von Projekten messbare, zum überwiegenden Teil positive Ergebnisse von Demut festgestellt. Sie lassen sich in drei Gruppen einteilen: Auswirkungen einer demutsvollen Führungskraft auf die Mitarbeiter (z. B. in Bezug auf Leistung oder Kreativität), Resultate für das gesamte Unternehmen (z. B. in Bezug auf Strategie oder Kultur) sowie Konsequenzen für die Führungskraft selber (z. B. in Bezug auf Leistung oder Stress).
Mütevazı liderler, çalışanların güçlü yönlerini ve örgüte katkılarını takdir eden, geri bildirime açık, büyüme ve gelişmeye istekli olan kişilerdir. Bu tür liderler kendilerini daha nesnel olarak görme eğilimindedirler, yeni bilgi veya fikirlere açıktırlar. Günümüzde örgütler sorunları çözmede, çalışma koşullarını değiştirmenin yollarını aramada ve örgütün etkinliğini artırmak için yenilikler yapmada inisiyatif alan çalışanlara giderek daha fazla ihtiyaç duymaktadır. Bu araştırmanın amacı mütevazı liderlik ile beyana dayalı kişisel inisiyatif arasındaki ilişkide psikolojik güvenliğin aracı rolünü incelemektir. Araştırma hipotezlerinin testinde Türkiye’de havacılık sektöründe faaliyet gösteren özel bir şirketin çalışanlarından oluşan örneklemden (n = 205) faydalanılmıştır. Anket tekniğiyle elde edilen veriler SPSS, AMOS ve Process Macro programlarıyla analiz edilmiştir. Yapılan analizlerde mütevazı liderliğin beyana dayalı kişisel inisiyatif üzerinde anlamlı bir etkisinin olduğu ve mütevazı liderlik ile beyana dayalı kişisel inisiyatif arasındaki ilişkide psikolojik güvenliğin aracı rolünün bulunduğu belirlenmiştir. Mevcut çalışma mütevazı liderlik ile kişisel inisiyatif alma arasındaki ilişkiyi araştırarak, kişisel inisiyatifin öncülleri hakkındaki literatürü zenginleştirmektedir. Ayrıca mütevazı liderlik ve kişisel inisiyatif arasındaki ilişkide psikolojik güvenliğin aracı rolü incelenerek mütevazı liderlik ve kişisel inisiyatif arasındaki ilişkiyi açıklama noktasında bir sosyal değişim mekanizması kurulmaya çalışılmıştır.
Previous research has highlighted the benefits of holding one’s views with humility. However, might intellectual humility surrounding existential beliefs also incur some psychological costs? To advance research on intellectual humility about existential concerns (IH-E), we conducted four studies (N = 1,700) to examine potential costs of humility. Study 1 (N = 203) revealed that IH-E was associated with greater death-related anxiety. Study 2 (N = 1,151) replicated this association in a larger sample. In Study 3 (N = 77), a longitudinal study of first-year college students revealed that IH-E predicted negative changes in religious well-being three and six weeks later. In Study 4 (N = 269), a year-long longitudinal study of religious “ex-vangelicals” revealed that IH-E predicted religious disbelief and lower well-being one year later. We discuss implications for the nature and structure of security-providing worldviews. Despite the benefits of humility, holding existential beliefs humbly might come with intrapsychic costs.
يستهدف البحث الحالي التعرف الى التواضع الفكري لدى اساتذة جامعتي القادسية وبغداد وفقا لمتغيرات الجنس (ذكور - اناث ) والتخصص ( انساني – علمي ) واللقب العلمي ( مدرس مساعد – مدرس – استاذ مساعد – استاذ ) والجامعة ( القادسية – بغداد ) ولتحقيق اهداف البحث قامت الباحثة ببناء مقياس التواضع الفكري بالاعتماد على نظرية ( Krumrei-mancuso,2017). وقد تكون المقياس من اربعة مجالات ( الانفتاح الذهني ، احترام وجهات نظر الاخرين ، الافتقار الى الثقة الفكرية ، استقلال الفكر والانا ) وتكونت عينة البحث الحالي من (336) تدريسياً وتدريسية من جامعتي القادسية وبغداد اختيروا بالطريقة الطبقية العشوائية ذات الاسلوب المتناسب وقد اشارت نتائج البحث الى ان عينة الحث ( اساتذة الجامعتين ) القادسية وبغداد لديهم تواضع فكري ، وتوجد فروق ذات دلالة احصائية في التواضع الفكري تعود لمتغير الجنس ( ذكور – اناث ) ولصالح الذكور . اما بالنسبة للتخصص فلا توجد فروق ذات دلاله احصائية في التواضع الفكري يعود لمتغير التخصص علمي انساني. كما اظهرت النتائج بان الأساتذة حاملي لقب الاستاذ والاستاذ المساعد لديهم تواضعا فكريا دالا احصائيا مقارنة بحاملي لقب المدرس المساعد والمدرس وان اساتذة جامعة بغداد لديهم تواضعا فكريا اعلى من جامعة القادسية .
This chapter discusses the concept of cultural humility. The concept is compared and contrasted with the concepts of cultural competence, cultural sensitivity, and cultural safety.KeywordsCultural humilityCultural sensitivityCultural safetyIntercultural humilityPower
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate how CEO humility influences inter-firm collaboration (IFC) and the moderating roles of firm status (a firm's relative position in a social order) and environmental uncertainty on such an effect. Design/methodology/approach As the firms were nested in township clusters, the theoretical model was tested using hierarchical linear modeling to analyze a multisource and multilevel onsite survey from 254 firms in Chinese township clusters. CEO humility was measured using an 18-item scale reported by both the human resource managers and the financial managers. Besides using CEO self-reported ratings as the measurement of IFC, this study employed additional measurements to further validate the findings, including the IFC reported by the administrative managers and two alternative measures for IFC reported by both CEO and the administrative managers of each firm. Findings This study found that CEO humility is positively related to IFC (H1), and that this association is marginally more salient when firms have high status (H2) but less salient when firms face a high level of environmental uncertainty (H3). Practical implications Findings suggest that firms with humble CEOs may benefit from better inter-firm collaborative relationships, especially when firms have high status (i.e. possess many well-known trademarks), but not when they are in an uncertain environment. Originality/value Previous humility studies focused on the influence of leader humility on individual and team outcomes, but little attention has been paid to organizational outcomes. This research extends the implications of leader humility to inter-firm relationships. Moreover, this paper explores the boundary conditions of the influence of CEO humility, thus advancing the contextual understanding of leader humility.
Dit artikel beschrijft ons onderzoek naar de invloed van nederigheid op de gezinsrelaties van religieuze gezinnen. We gebruikten een kwalitatieve onderzoeksmethode en hielden interviews met een steekproef van 198 gezinnen (N = 476) waarin het geloof een belangrijke rol speelde en waarin sprake is van een gevarieerde samenstelling qua specifieke godsdienst, etnische afkomst en geografische herkomst. Er werden semigestructureerde interviews afgenomen bij de deelnemers thuis, met vragen over de invloed van godsdienst op hun gezinsleven. De kwalitatieve data-analyse van de interviewtranscripties gebeurde met behulp van software voor kwalitatieve data-analyse, teamcodering en de grounded theory-methode. In de interviews kwamen de volgende vier thema’s terug: (1) trots als obstakel voor relationeel welzijn, (2) de invloed van religieuze overtuigingen op nederigheid, (3) de invloed van religieuze gebruiken op nederigheid, en (4) nederigheid in de praktijk. Samen wekken deze thema’s de indruk dat nederigheid mensen individueel en in hun relaties met beide benen op de grond kan houden én hen in hun kracht kan zetten. Onderzoek heeft uitgewezen dat nederigheid (of bescheidenheid, red.) een belangrijk aspect is voor het welzijn van mensen, individueel en in relaties. Het wordt als een positieve karaktereigenschap en een deugd beschouwd, en nederigheid is in empirisch onderzoek in verband gebracht met meerdere positieve interpersoonlijke en intrapersoonlijke uitkomsten (Peterson en Seligman 2004). Over het algemeen kan nederigheid egoïsme helpen tegengaan (Tangney 2000) en kan het altruïsme bevorderen (Crocker et al. 2017), wat weer een positieve invloed op het functioneren van relaties kan hebben. Recent onderzoek biedt meer inzicht in de factoren, dimensies, en uitkomsten die te maken hebben met nederigheid in relaties (Worthington en Allison 2018). Nederigheid is een diepgeworteld aspect van de overtuigingen en gebruiken in praktisch alle grote religies. Het vormt zelfs de grondslag van veel religieuze leerstellingen, en bepaalde religieuze gebruiken worden specifiek voorgeschreven voor het ontwikkelen en behouden van nederigheid (Hook en Davis 2014). Aangezien religie en gezinsrelaties sterk met elkaar verbonden zijn (Dollahite et al. 2018a), kunnen religieuze overtuigingen en gebruiken invloed hebben op ideeën over en uitingen van nederigheid, wat weer allerlei implicaties kan hebben voor relaties. Hoewel de factoren die voorafgaan aan nederigheid en de uitkomsten ervan al in veel studies zijn onderzocht, bevindt het onderzoek over de motivatie voor nederigheid en de processen die een rol spelen bij hoe en waarom mensen nederig zijn (of ervoor kiezen nederig te zijn) zich nog in een pril stadium. Vragen die nog empirisch kunnen worden onderzocht zijn: wat motiveert mensen tot nederigheid? Waarom is nederigheid belangrijk? Hoe worden mensen nederig? Hoe wordt nederigheid gemotiveerd door bepaalde geloofsovertuigingen en visies op de wereld? Hoe brengen mensen nederigheid in de praktijk en oefenen ze zichzelf erin? Om deze vragen te kunnen beantwoorden onderzochten we in deze studie de standpunten van religieuze gezinnen over trots en nederigheid. Verder onderzochten we of religieuze overtuigingen en gebruiken in de context van de partnerrelatie en de ouder-kindrelaties invloed hebben op nederigheid, en zo ja, hoe die invloed eruitziet en waarom dat zo is. Ons streven is om deze vragen te beantwoorden en om meer inzicht te krijgen in de processen die een rol spelen bij nederigheid. Voor het onderzoeken van de motieven, processen, overtuigingen en gebruiken die een rol spelen bij nederigheid in religieuze gezinnen hebben we een kwalitatieve benadering gehanteerd; dit vanwege het exploratieve karakter van dit onderzoek en omdat we het eens zijn met de observatie van Rich (2017) dat kwalitatieve onderzoeksparadigma’s een waardevolle bijdrage kunnen leveren aan de positieve psychologie.
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Some of the most interesting works in virtue ethics are the detailed, perceptive treatments of specific virtues and vices. This chapter aims to develop such work as it relates to intellectual virtues and vices. It begins by examining the virtue of intellectual humility. Its strategy is to situate humility in relation to its various opposing vices, which include vices like arrogance, vanity, conceit, egotism, grandiosity, pretentiousness, snobbishness, haughtiness, and self-complacency. From this list vanity and arrogance are focused on in particular. Humble persons are not distinguished from arrogant persons by being unaware of or unconcerned with entitlements; rather, they lack the arrogance that entails a specific kind of motivation called 'ego-exalting potency'. Humble people are motivated by pure interests regarding entitlements given their ability to serve as means to some valuable purpose or project. The chapter ends by considering a wide variety of ways intellectual humility can promote the acquisition of epistemic goods.
To facilitate a multidimensional approach to empathy the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) includes 4 subscales: Perspective-Taking (PT) Fantasy (FS) Empathic Concern (EC) and Personal Distress (PD). The aim of the present study was to establish the convergent and discriminant validity of these 4 subscales. Hypothesized relationships among the IRI subscales between the subscales and measures of other psychological constructs (social functioning self-esteem emotionality and sensitivity to others) and between the subscales and extant empathy measures were examined. Study subjects included 677 male and 667 female students enrolled in undergraduate psychology classes at the University of Texas. The IRI scales not only exhibited the predicted relationships among themselves but also were related in the expected manner to other measures. Higher PT scores were consistently associated with better social functioning and higher self-esteem; in contrast Fantasy scores were unrelated to these 2 characteristics. High EC scores were positively associated with shyness and anxiety but negatively linked to egotism. The most substantial relationships in the study involved the PD scale. PD scores were strongly linked with low self-esteem and poor interpersonal functioning as well as a constellation of vulnerability uncertainty and fearfulness. These findings support a multidimensional approach to empathy by providing evidence that the 4 qualities tapped by the IRI are indeed separate constructs each related in specific ways to other psychological measures.
In reporting Implicit Association Test (IAT) results, researchers have most often used scoring conventions described in the first publication of the IAT (A. G. Greenwald, D. E. McGhee, & J. L. K. Schwartz, 1998). Demonstration IATs available on the Internet have produced large data sets that were used in the current article to evaluate alternative scoring procedures. Candidate new algorithms were examined in terms of their (a) correlations with parallel self-report measures, (b) resistance to an artifact associated with speed of responding, (c) internal consistency, (d) sensitivity to known influences on IAT measures, and (e) resistance to known procedural influences. The best-performing measure incorporates data from the IAT's practice trials, uses a metric that is calibrated by each respondent's latency variability, and includes a latency penalty for errors. This new algorithm strongly outperforms the earlier (conventional) procedure.
Proposed that a distinction be made between 2 emotional responses to seeing another person suffer--personal distress and empathy--and that these 2 emotions lead to 2 different kinds of motivation to help: Personal distress leads to egoistic motivation; empathy, to altruistic motivation. These distinctions were tested in 3 studies, each using 10 male and 10 female undergraduates. Across the 3 studies, factor analysis of Ss' self-reported emotional response indicated that feelings of personal distress and empathy, although positively correlated, were experienced as qualitatively distinct. The pattern of helping in Studies 1 and 2 indicated that a predominance of personal distress led to egoistic motivation, whereas a predominance of empathy led to altruistic motivation. In Study 3, the cost of helping was made especially high. Results suggest an important qualification on the link between empathic emotion and altruistic motivation: Ss reporting a predominance of empathy displayed an egoistic pattern of helping. Apparently, making helping costly evoked self-concern, which overrode any altruistic impulse produced by feeling empathy. (12 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Humility is a neglected virtue in the social and psychological sciences. Virtually no empirical research directly has addressed this long-revered construct. In this article, contrasting conceptions of humility are reviewed. Although humility frequently is equated with a sense of unworthiness and low self-regard, theoreticians view true humility as a rich, multifaceted construct that entails an accurate assessment of one's characteristics, an ability to acknowledge limitations, and a "forgetting of the self." Scientific study of the nature and implications of humility is still in its infancy. Work in this area would be greatly enhanced by the development of theoretically informed measures of humility. Closely related constructs (self-esteem, modesty, and narcissism) are discussed, along with future directions for research.
This paper is divided into two parts. In the first, the rank order stability of individual differences in altruism across situations is examined and it is found that substantial consistency occurs when due regard is given to the principle of aggregation. In the second, a self-report altruism scale, on which respondents rate the frequency with which they have engaged in some 20 specific behaviors, is found to predict such criteria as peer-ratings of altruism, completing an organ-donor card, and paper-and-pencil measures of prosocial orientation. These data suggest there is a broad-based trait of altruism.
Do people perceive humility as a strength or a weakness? The current study examined this question in a sample of 127 undergraduates. Contrary to common dictionary definitions of humility, which often emphasize its association with self-abasement, participants reported consistently positive views of humility. When recalling situations in which they felt humble, they typically reported success experiences associated with positive emotion. Participants clearly associated humility with good psychological adjustment, although they were less decisive about whether humility was associated with confidence or leadership. Although participants viewed humility as a strength across all social roles sampled, humility was viewed most favorably as a quality of religious seekers, less favorably as a quality of close others or subordinates, and least favorably as a quality of leaders or entertainers. Positive views of humility were associated with high self-esteem and religiosity. Less favorable views of humility were associated with narcissism—particularly its exploiting/entitled dimension.