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Agreeableness: Dimension of Personality or Social Desirability Artifact?


  • William G. Graziano and Renée M. Tobin, Department of Psychology.

  • We are especially grateful to Delroy L. Paulhus for his advice in designing and interpreting this program of research. We thank William H. M. Bryant, David Funder, Elizabeth C. Hair, Lauri A. Jensen-Campbell, Deborah A. Kashy, W. Joel Schneider, Michele Marie Tomarelli, and Stephen Gammaguy West for their help and expertise in design, data collection, and analysis. We also thank Linda Albright, Winfred E. Arthur, Jr., John F. Finch, Lowell A. Gaertner, David Kenny, Thomas Malloy, Rowland Spence Miller, Les Morey, Cynthia Riccio, Bradley E. Sheese, David E. Tobin, and Thomas J. Tobin for their suggestions and comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. We thank members of the Texas A&M Personality and Social Influence Research Team for their help in completing the data collection. This research was supported by grant R01 MH50069 from the National Institute of Mental Health to William G. Graziano.

*Correspondence can be sent to W. G. Graziano, Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Room 102, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1267 (USA), e-mail:


ABSTRACT Agreeableness is linked to socially valued traits and prosocial motives, so self-reported Agreeableness may be distorted by self-favoring biases (SFB). A three-study multimethod research program explored links between the Big Five dimension of Agreeableness and SFB from three perspectives. First, we examined zero-order relations between Agreeableness and SFB measures (N = 316). Next, we used a round robin design (N = 351) and the Social Relations Model analyses (Kenny, 1994) to partition perceptions of Agreeableness into target and perceiver effects. These effects then were related to SFB concerns, and differential responsiveness to a manipulation of the social desirability of Agreeableness. Study 3 (N = 312) examined a manipulation of Agreeableness as a moderator of the relation between dispositional Agreeableness and interpersonal conflict tactics. Overall, results indicate that Agreeableness is not easily manipulated nor distorted by SFB. Results are discussed in terms of Agreeableness as a substantive system of motives.