Are you the type of person who will not only give strangers directions but also walk them to their destination? There’s a word for you – two words, actually. Agreeable and neurotic. Maybe neurotic. Just a bit.
People who are likely to engage in “prosocial” activities – actions that help others – score high for “agreeability” on psychological profiles. As you might guess, agreeable people are pleasant, cooperative, friendly, helpful, and love social approval. These are your Facebook friends who post upbeat stuff and never complain online.
Neuroticism is a measure of how destabilized a person becomes as a result of outside stimuli. So, what’s the connection between agreeableness and neuroticism when it comes to helping strangers? Research indicates that a person with a significant level of neuroticism may have a very strong empathetic reaction to someone who needs help – but may not act on that emotion. Agreeableness is what prompts us to actually lend a hand.
It will come as no surprise that agreeable people tend to be happier than the rest of us. Psychologists think that’s because agreeable folk excel at “emotional regulation.” They avoid negative experiences and spend as much time as possible in situations that match their upbeat personalities. These behaviors may further explain their willingness to help people. While it may be unsettling to see someone in need, helping that person turns the experience from a negative memory to a positive one.
That seems like one more reason to be a Good Samaritan, whether you are neurotic or not.