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How Your Traits Are Affecting Your Salary

Have you ever wondered what qualities affect your salary? You may have gone into your job thinking that you get paid based on the quality of your work, but it turns out there is a bit of a personal pay curve. Studies have shown that people get paid more or less than based on different qualities - from trivial matters such as which hand is your dominant one, to the disturbing question of whether your are over- or under-weight.

Left-Handed vs. Right-Handed

The world really does cater to the right-handed. From right-handed desks in classrooms to every day scissors that were made for that righty grip, people who are left-handed get left behind from day one. Which might be a small things except that a recent study from the Journal of Economic Perspectives showed that people who are left-handed are making less money than their right-handed counterparts. The gap is about 10 to 12% annually, and has more to do with how your dominant hand correlates with other personality traits than how you hold a pencil.


Joshua Goodman, who wrote the paper on this study, studied data from the US and UK which showed that people who are left-handed tend to have more problems with their emotions, behavior, and even struggle in school thanks to disorders such as dyslexia. On the other hand, new research also shows that left-handed people are more creative and more likely to be among the number of students who score best on the SATs. So while lefties have both advantages and disadvantages, the gap may be due in part to the fact that they are in the population minority. It’s easy for those who are right-handed to have a more successful average when there are so many more of them statistically - although maybe living in a world where they are more easily accepted does help.


What other traits pay up?


It’s not just what hand you use that may determine your success in a job. There are many different traits that have been studied, and one has found that extroverts do make more money than introverts. A study of the 16 Meyers-Briggs personality types and their annual income showed that extroverts made about $9,000 more a year. This could be similar to the reason men tend to make more money than women: in a business world where salaries are often negotiated, those who step forward to demand more are rewarded. Extroverts are more willing to discuss their salary with an employer and men are raised to fight for themselves and what they are owed. Women are raised to be more modest and not make waves, while introverts similarly avoid confrontation that a discussion on a pay raise might bring. The Meyers-Brigg data also showed that the hyper-rational ENTJ personality type had the highest earning potential, while the emotional INFP was left behind with the lowest salary. Although the Meyers-Briggs personality test isn’t foolproof, it does go to show how different personality traits are valued in the business world. Some data, however, is more discouraging and perplexing: researchers have found that women who are below average weight make more money each year, while men who are underweight make less money annually. Women who are 25 pounds below average are seemingly “rewarded” for adhering to the media’s standard of female beauty, while skinny men were punished because the effect was found to be associated with traits like “weak.” Thus, their overweight co-workers out-earned them - although muscular men earned the most. Inversely, women who gained weight were paid less each year. Other personality traits that have shown to correlate with a wealthy income include high energy, an upbeat attitude, extreme confidence, and able to take risks without being impulsive. Luckily, all of these traits are easy to adapt. If you have the energy and confidence to chase your dreams without the impulsiveness that may crash them, you can have any sort of future you can imagine.


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