Humility and competence: which attribute affects socialrelationships at work?

Teoh, Ai Ni (2022) Humility and competence: which attribute affects socialrelationships at work? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (10). 5969.

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Between likability and competence, people value likable colleagues (regardless of their competence level) more than competent colleagues. If humility replaces competence, the preference might be different since humility is not always associated with positive outcomes. Humility and competence form four archetypes: humble star, humble fool, competent jerk, and incompetent jerk. This study examined the personal and professional preferences for these archetypes in the workplace and how the preference is moderated by colleagues’ seniority. There were 475 working adults aged between 21 and 77 (M = 40.34, SD = 11.32) recruited to complete an online survey. While humble fools were more likable than competent jerks in personal interactions, competent jerks received more cooperation than humble fools in professional interactions. Seniority did not affect these findings. Our findings shed light on whether, and when, humility should be highly valued in organizational settings. Promoting humility in the workplace setting might require more caution.

Item ID: 74196
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1660-4601
Keywords: humility; competence; likability; work environment; seniority
Copyright Information: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Funders: James Cook University Singapore Internal Research Grant
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2022 03:28
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5299 Other psychology > 529999 Other psychology not elsewhere classified @ 40%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 60%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 100%
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