What might seem obvious to some — that humble people are more likely than arrogant people to give of their time to help someone in need — wasn’t a given for Dr. Jordan LaBouff, BA ’05, MA ’08, PhD ’11.
“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,” says LaBouff, who conducted his research on the subject while a doctoral candidate at Baylor. Furthermore, he adds, “in nearly 30 years of research on helping behavior, very few studies have shown any effect of personality variables on helping.”
LaBouff, Baylor psychology and neuroscience professors Dr. Wade Rowatt and Dr. Jo-Ann Tsang, doctoral candidate Megan Johnson, BA ’07, MA ’09, and undergraduate student Grace McCullough Willerton, BA ’07, collaborated on the study in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences. The results of their work, recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, have caught fire in media outlets all over the country and even internationally. See these headlines, for example:
- MSNBC: “Need a hand? Find someone humble”
- National Geographic: “Humble People Are Helpful People”
- United Press International: “Humble people more likely to help”
- United Kingdom Press Association: “‘Tis the season to be humble…”
And so it goes… From the Huffington Post to Technorati, MSN Health to CBC/Radio-Canada, the quintet’s research has carried the Baylor name into countless reports — even into Spanish over on the National Institutes of Health website.
Sic ’em, Baylor researchers!