Human Journey

Humble People Are Helpful People

Photo by Gilbert M. Grosvenor

 

“If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect.” – Ted Turner

A study by researchers at Baylor and the University of Maine has proven something that has been obvious to me for a long time–that humble people are more likely to be helpful to others than egotists. Why is this obvious, you ask? Because, being far and away the most humble person I know, I speak from experience. I’m always willing to lend a hand while some of my more self-centered friends and colleagues are decidedly less helpful–almost useless really.

In the study, students who self-identified as humble were also likely to describe themselves as helpful. The researchers then put these claims of humility to the test when study participants were asked to help a fictitious classmate who was  dealing with a personal tragedy. Here, the most humble students in the group showed a greater willingness to devote time and resources to assist their classmate. According to University of Maine psychology lecturer Jordan LaBouff, “Participants who were more humble were most likely to help their peers, even when social pressure to do so was lowest.”

A related Baylor study–one that my pompous layabout co-workers would do well to read–found that humble employees perform better on the job than their peers.

Now, if only they’d conduct research on the benefits of irony.

For all the latest science news, check out the National Geographic’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.

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