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Which personality type is the most respectful?

Respect is an important value that allows people to have positive relationships and interactions. However, some personality types may be more naturally inclined towards respectful behavior than others. In this article, we will explore the Big Five personality traits and how they relate to respectfulness.

What is respect?

Respect can be defined as showing care, consideration and politeness towards others and their boundaries. A respectful person values others as individuals, listens to their perspectives, and treats them in a kind and dignified manner.

Respect includes:

  • Showing regard for another person’s feelings, wishes, rights, traditions and ideas
  • Being courteous, thoughtful and civil in behavior and communication
  • Honoring differences and promoting dignity
  • Listening to others and valuing their input
  • Being sensitive to diversity in culture, beliefs and experiences

In summary, respect involves embracing differences, being tolerant, and interacting with compassion.

The Big Five personality traits

When discussing personality traits, psychologists often refer to the Five Factor Model or “Big Five” dimensions. This model identifies five broad personality traits that can describe and compare human behavior.

The Big Five traits are:

  1. Openness to experience – Appreciation for variety, intellectual curiosity, creativity and unconventional perspectives.
  2. Conscientiousness – Self-discipline, organization, dutifulness, aim for achievement.
  3. Extraversion – Outgoing, energetic approach toward social engagements and external world.
  4. Agreeableness – kindness, trust, affection, altruism and cooperation.
  5. Neuroticism – Tendency to experience negative emotions like anxiety, anger and depression.

Each of these broad traits has a spectrum from high to low. An individual can score anywhere on each spectrum, resulting in a distinctive personality profile.

Which Big Five traits relate to respectfulness?

Of the Big Five personality traits, agreeableness and conscientiousness have the strongest links to respectful attitudes and behavior towards others.


Those who score high in agreeableness tend to value getting along well with others. Agreeable people are generally:

  • Considerate and kind
  • Willing to compromise
  • Sympathetic to other viewpoints
  • Eager to help and cooperate

These qualities allow agreeable people to connect well with diverse groups. They are adept at respecting differences, finding common ground, and avoiding unnecessary conflict.


Conscientious individuals have a strong sense of duty and self-discipline. They excel at:

  • Being organized and prepared
  • Delaying gratification
  • Following rules, plans and shared values
  • Controlling impulses that hurt others

Their reliability makes them valued members of communities. They model respect through dependability, integrity and regard for procedures and standards.

How other Big Five traits relate to respect

While agreeableness and conscientiousness are most directly tied to respect, the other three personality factors also have an influence.


Those with high neuroticism may struggle to be respectful when they feel overwhelmed by negative emotions like anxiety, irritability or sadness. Their internal distress makes it difficult to focus outwardly and engage patiently with others who have different needs or perspectives.


Extraverts gain energy from social situations which provides opportunity to practice respectful engagement. However, extraverts may also need to restrain their enthusiasm and desire for attention in order to listen sensitively and make room for quieter voices.

Openness to experience

Openness can support respect by cultivating interest and appreciation for new people and ideas. But high openness can sometimes manifest as questioning tradition simply for its own sake, rather than thoughtfully discerning when to uphold or improve existing practices.

What does research say about Big Five traits and respect?

Studies support agreeableness and conscientiousness as especially relevant for respectful conduct. For example:

  • A meta-analysis found agreeableness was the strongest Big Five predictor of cooperative behavior in social dilemmas.
  • Research shows agreeableness is associated with adherence to COVID-19 prevention behaviors like distancing and masking to show care for others.
  • Conscientiousness predicts following workplace safety rules, which demonstrates respect for organization standards and fellow employees.

There are some key limitations though. Traits alone cannot perfectly predict how any one person will behave in complex social contexts. However, identifying broad patterns can provide useful insight.

What other factors influence respect?

While personality provides a foundation, respectful attitudes and actions also depend heavily on an individual’s:

  • Values – What ethical ideals and qualities does the person prioritize and admire?
  • Beliefs – What worldviews shape their opinions on human rights and dignity?
  • Environment – What was their upbringing and what social norms do they operate within?
  • Situation – What pressing needs, stresses or power dynamics affect their ability to be respectful?

Two people with similar personalities may behave very differently depending on their circumstances and learned principles. Personality cannot give the full picture.

What is the most respectful personality profile?

While no single profile guarantees respectfulness, individuals who score high in both agreeableness and conscientiousness likely find it most natural to engage respectfully. They tend to be dependable, cooperative and thoughtful.

However, every person has the ability to show more respect through conscious effort and practice. Developing greater empathy, patience, wisdom and discipline allows people of all personality types to improve.

Personality Trait Respectful Attitudes & Behaviors
Agreeableness Consideration of others’ needs, sympathy, cooperation, compromise, patience during conflict, interest in different perspectives
Conscientiousness Dependability, integrity, self-restraint, adherence to rules and standards, organization, sense of duty
Neuroticism Struggles managing negative emotions, difficulty focusing outwardly
Extraversion Energetic participation in community, must restrain dominance
Openness to experience Appreciation of diversity, questioning traditions, violating norms

Improving respect through self-awareness

To become more respectful, start by identifying your own personality strengths and weaknesses:

  • Are you naturally empathetic and cooperative like highly agreeable types? Or do you need to work on considering additional perspectives?
  • Are you disciplined and orderly like those with high conscientiousness? Or do you need help following guidelines closely?
  • Do you tend to be anxious like those with neurotic tendencies? Practice calming yourself before interactions.
  • Are you very talkative as an extravert? Learn to listen more.
  • Are you intellectually curious but sometimes dismissive of rules due to high openness? Aim to question thoughtfully.

You can also take a Big Five Personality Test to learn more about your inherent tendencies.

Other respect-building strategies

Here are some other research-based tips for improving respectfulness:

  • Cultivate empathy – Imagine yourself in another person’s situation or read diverse literature to understand different perspectives.
  • Examine your biases – Notice prejudiced beliefs you may hold due to upbringing and work to replace them.
  • Speak carefully – Avoid generalizations, stereotypes and hurtful humor at others’ expense.
  • Learn active listening – Give your full attention when others speak and reflect back what you hear.
  • Practice humility – Admit when you’re wrong instead of needing to prove yourself right.
  • Keep confidentiality – Do not share others’ private information and details they request you keep secret.


Agreeableness and conscientiousness are especially tied to respectful conduct. But nurturing respect requires more than inherent personality traits. Everyone can foster greater empathy, wisdom and care for others through conscious effort. Aim to understand your natural tendencies and work thoughtfully to overcome any weaknesses.