Media coverage of research carries the Baylor name far and wide.
What might seem obvious to some -- that humble people are more likely than arrogant people to give of their time to help someone in need -- wasn't a given for Dr. Jordan LaBouff, BA '05, MA '08, PhD '11.
"While it certainly seemed possible that humble people might be more focused on other people's needs and thus more willing to help a peer in need, it also seemed possible that traits associated with humility (like modesty) might discourage helping a peer in need," said LaBouff, who collaborated in researching the subject while a doctoral candidate at Baylor. Furthermore, he added, "in nearly 30 years of research on helping behavior, very few studies have shown any effect of personality variables on helping."
LaBouff, now a lecturer in psychology at the University of Maine, published his group's findings in The Journal of Positive Psychology. While at Baylor, he worked with psychology and neuroscience professors Dr. Wade Rowatt and Dr. Jo-Ann Tsang, doctoral candidate Megan Johnson, BA '07, MA '09, and undergraduate student Grace McCullough Willerton, BA '07, in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The research, funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, involved three studies of college students:
"Our discovery here is that the understudied trait of humility predicts helpfulness," Rowatt said. "Important next steps will be to figure out whether humility can be cultivated and if humility is beneficial in other contexts, such as scientific and medical advancements or leadership development."
The results of the study by LaBouff, Rowatt, Johnson, Tsang and Willerton caught fire in media outlets all over the country and even internationally. See these headlines, for example:
And so it went, for weeks after the journal's release... From the Huffington Post to Technorati, MSN Health to CBC/Radio-Canada, the quintet's research carried the Baylor name into countless reports -- even into Spanish over on the National Institutes of Health website. And that doesn't even begin to include the countless science blogs out there that covered the story.