Are Massage Therapists Helpful in a Humble Way?

Massage therapists are known to be, in general, empathetic, caring and concerned with helping their clients. According to new research, humble people are most helpful.

In most cases, a person’s decision to help someone in need is influenced by temporary personal or situational factors such as time pressure, number of bystanders, momentary feelings of empathy or a person’s own distress, said Wade C. Rowatt, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who led the study and co-authored the article, in a press release.

“The research indicates that humility is a positive quality with potential benefits,” Rowatt said. “While several factors influence whether people will volunteer to help a fellow human in need, it appears that humble people, on average, are more helpful than individuals who are egotistical or conceited.”

The research found:

• Participants who reported themselves as humble also generally reported that they were helpful, even when other important personality factors, such as agreeableness, were statistically controlled.

• Humble people offer more time to help than less humble ones.

• Humility was associated with the amount of time offered to help another person in need, especially when pressure to help was low.

“The findings are surprising because in nearly 30 years of research on helping behavior, very few studies have shown any effect of personality variables on helping,” said lead author Jordan LaBouff, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychology at the University of Maine, who collaborated on the research while a doctoral candidate at Baylor. “The only other personality trait that has shown any effect is agreeableness, but we found that humility predicted helping over and above that.”

Important next steps will be to figure out whether humility can be cultivated and if humility is beneficial in other contexts, Rowatt said, “such as scientific and medical advancements or leadership development.”

The research was published online in the Journal of Positive Psychology.