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Personal Growth

Is Humility the Greatest Virtue?

New psychological research shows that humility is strongly associated with a host of positive virtues, including maintaining friendships, having good work habits and being generous. 

What’s the Latest Development?

New psychological research shows a clear link between humility, as a personality characteristic, and helping, an action one does for the benefit of others. In an experiment at the University of Maine, 117 students were given questionnaires that evaluated their personalities and determined their level of civic engagement. “The researchers found that of all the personality traits measured, humility was the most strongly linked with helpfulness.” Researchers also conducted an implicit association test, “which measures people’s unconscious attitudes by examining their reaction time in certain word tasks.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Researchers discovered that humility is strongly associated with a host of positive values, including reliable friendship, good working habits and generosity. Evolutionary psychologists say there’s good reason for that: “Humble people will be more helpful to the group because a trait that involves subsuming one’s own needs to those of others is only likely to be preserved in a species in which cooperation is necessary for survival.” Humans, who generally require the help of others in thriving or raising children, are probably one such species.

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Some research proposes that sorrow in fiction might be a form of psychological relief. A more fruitful explanation is that important virtues, values and morals that elicit uplifting emotions accompany sad moments in fiction. 

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