LONDON March 21: Nice guys finish last, or so the saying goes — but not according to a new study.
Research by a leading expert at Goldsmiths University found that nice people are more likely to succeed in life because they have high levels of emotional intelligence.
The results suggested those who consider themselves to be nice are happier, healthier, better at coping with stress — and make more money. It found nice people earned an average of £3,500 a year more than others: £24,650 compared with £21,110.
Eighty-one per cent of nice participants said they were content in their lives, more than twice the number of those who were not so nice — 30 per cent. Only 10 per cent of people who described their behaviour as "bullish" and "aggressive" said they were happy.
Professor Jonathan Freeman carried out the study, which combined facial recognition technology with a psychological battery questionnaire to assess qualities related to niceness: empathy, agreeableness and altruism.
Professor Freeman, the founder of research group i2 Media, said Mary Poppins, who is about to be played by Emily Blunt in a remake of the classic Disney film, and Amélie, Audrey Tautou's character in the film of the same name, were "the epitome of nice".
He said: "The aim of the study was to see what 'nice' actually meant psychologically and practically.
"The psychological battery questionnaire was designed to analyse the participant's self-reported characteristics to see what actually made a nice person. The research
showed those who identified as nice were highly agreeable, had high empathy and compassion, high self-ratings of altruism, trust and consideration.
"Nice people's emotional intelligence was also higher. What was also interesting was that nice people said they were generally happier, healthier and better off financially."
Participants noted how frequently they carried out "nice" behaviour, with 82.8 per cent saying they often gave directions to a stranger and 79.7 per cent saying they held lift doors for strangers. Participants were also asked about the tipping point at which they would "lose their nice".
The biggest trigger was rudeness, cited by 73 per cent of participants.
In the second section of the study, participants completed a Facereader test which measured "micro-expressions" when they watched a short video showing stressful or difficult situations, such as missing a train or road rage.
It found those who had higher levels of emotional intelligence were able to endure stress better than others.
When I took the test, it found I was less agreeable than the average participant, but had better emotional intelligence.
It also showed I was less altruistic, compassionate and considerate than average, but was happier and more trusting.
Professor Freeman said: "It is not surprising that someone in your field would be high in emotional intelligence to get the best out of the interviewee." The study was commissioned by Monarch airlines as part of their
Year of Nice campaign encouraging people to be nicer to each other. Monarch crew who took part in the tests scored significantly higher than the general sample on agreeableness and empathy.