Jordan Peterson: The Mind of Highly (Dis-)Agreeable People

The article is a theoretical piece.

The article discusses the differences between highly agreeable and disagreeable people, and how those differences may be related to evolution and the role of women as caregivers for infants. It also explores the challenges that agreeable people may face and how they can learn to negotiate on their own behalf.

Main topic: The personality traits of highly agreeable and disagreeable people. Secondary topics: Evolutionary and biological reasons for those traits, the challenges faced by agreeable people, and strategies for promoting assertiveness.

  1. Introduction
    • Women's higher sensitivity to negative emotions and its potential cause
  2. Reasons for Women's Higher Sensitivity to Negative Emotion
    • Danger of physical altercation
    • Sexual danger
    • Adaptation to the mother-infant dyad
  3. Disadvantages of Being Highly Agreeable
    • What is a disagreeable person like?
    • The demand for inclusiveness and unity vs. high-level performance in a hierarchical structure
    • Exploitation of agreeable individuals
    • The need for assertiveness training in psychotherapy
  4. The Psychology of Agreeable People
    • Sensitivity to conflict and demand for smooth waters
    • Difficulty in figuring out personal desires
  5. Conclusion

The Difference between Men and Women's Sensitivity to Negative Emotions

Jordan Peterson delves into the possible reason why women are more sensitive to negative emotions than men. His hypothesis is that women's biology and evolutionary history are responsible for making them more aware and fearful of danger, both physically and sexually. Women are vulnerable to sexual encounters from pubescence, and the consequences of unintended pregnancies have been severe throughout history. This vulnerability caused women's nervous systems to be wired for caring for infants optimally under nine months old.

Peterson argues that women's nervous systems are better adapted to the mother-infant dyad than daily business environments, which require more disagreeable traits to succeed. Being agreeable means having a more compassionate and polite disposition towards others, while being disagreeable implies a tough-minded, blunt, and competitive nature that focuses more on accomplishments than feelings. These opposing traits often conflict, and Jordan notes that highly conscientious women who are agreeable can be heavily exploited and will do many times more work than others without taking any credit.

Jordan also highlights that the majority who seek psychotherapy have this trait. Agreeable people often require assertiveness training to negotiate on their own behalf, as they tend to avoid conflict and prioritize creating a peaceful environment. Peterson suggests that it is crucial for agreeable people to find a balance and take care not to be exploited.

The Mind of Highly (Dis-)Agreeable People

Peterson speaks about highly disagreeable people, who are blunt, competitive, and generally do not care about feelings and emotions. Highly agreeable people often come to therapists to learn assertiveness and how to negotiate on their behalf. Peterson suggests that it is challenging for agreeable people to deal with conflicts as this trait is not wired into their nervous system. In corporate environments, highly conscientious women are often exploited and are the essential cog behind the everyday workings of such businesses. Being disagreeable and focusing on accomplishments and productivity has been a winning formula for businesses. Peterson suggests that people find a balance to succeed in their careers without becoming exploited.

The information in this article can influence several areas of knowledge and life, including psychology, sociology, business, and personal development. Understanding the differences in personality traits between men and women can help in creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all genders. The article sheds light on the evolutionary factors that have led to the differences in sensitivity to negative emotions between men and women. However, the article misses out on discussing the impact of social and cultural conditioning on personality traits. Areas of knowledge such as anthropology and cultural studies can complement this information by providing insights into how societal norms and expectations can shape behaviors and attitudes. Additionally, the article does not address the fluidity of personality traits and how they can change over time due to various life experiences and circumstances. The contradictions in the article include the idea that agreeable people are compassionate and polite, but they can also be susceptible to exploitation. Similarly, disagreeable people are characterized as tough-minded, competitive, and blunt, but they may also display predatory aggression, which can negatively impact their interpersonal relationships.

Question 1:

What are some reasons why women are more sensitive to negative emotions?

"...first there's the danger of physical altercation second there's the sexual danger..."

Question 2:

Why is there a sex difference in sensitivity to punishment and fear?

"...the reason that women are higher in sensitivity to negative emotion is because the world is actually more dangerous to women."

Question 3:

What are some characteristics of disagreeable people?

"...they're tough-minded, they're blunt, they're competitive and they won't do a damn thing they don't want to do..."

Question 4:

Why might agreeable people have difficulty negotiating on their own behalf?

"...agreeable people do not like conflict not at all they smooth the water...if you're also more prone to being hurt physically and perhaps emotionally you also may be loath to engage in the kind of high intense conflict that will solve problems in the short term..."

Outline: Women's Sensitivity and Disagreeable People

    Question 1: What is the main reason for women being higher in sensitivity to negative emotions?

  • a. Women have a stronger emotional constitution
  • b. Women need to express vulnerability of infants
  • c. Women are wired to live for others
  • d. Men are wired to be less sensitive
  • Answer: b

    Question 2: Why are women biologically wired to perform the role of taking care of infants?

  • a. Infants are demanding and helpless
  • b. Infants are never wrong
  • c. Women breastfeed
  • d. All of the above
  • Answer: d

    Question 3: What is the difference between agreeable and disagreeable people?

  • a. Agreeable people are compassionate, while disagreeable people are aggressive
  • b. Agreeable people are polite, while disagreeable people are competitive
  • c. Agreeable people are more emotional, while disagreeable people are more rational
  • d. Agreeable people are more successful, while disagreeable people are less successful
  • Answer: b

Outline: Women's Vulnerability and Assertiveness Training

    Question 1: What is the disadvantage of women's nervous systems being wired for caring for infants?

  • a. Women are less likely to be successful in a competitive environment
  • b. Women are too sensitive to negative emotions
  • c. Women are biologically predisposed to being exploited
  • d. Women are unable to handle confrontations
  • Answer: a

    Question 2: What is assertiveness training?

  • a. Training for women to be more emotional in their decision making
  • b. Training for women to be more aggressive in their behavior
  • c. Training for women to negotiate on their own behalf
  • d. Training for women to be more passive and agreeable
  • Answer: c

    Question 3: What is the challenge of assertiveness training for agreeable people?

  • a. They find it hard to tell the truth
  • b. They are too emotional
  • c. They struggle to be competitive
  • d. They often don't know what they want
  • Answer: d

Outline: Exploitation and Corporate Culture

    Question 1: Why are middle-aged women often exploited in corporations?

  • a. Because they are hyper-conscientious and agreeable
  • b. Because they are emotionally intelligent
  • c. Because they are less susceptible to stress
  • d. Because they are more rational than men
  • Answer: a

    Question 2: What is the potential risk for agreeable people in large institutions?

  • a. They may be overlooked for promotion
  • b. They may not be valued for their work
  • c. They may be exploited by others
  • d. They may struggle to work in a competitive environment
  • Answer: c

    Question 3: What is the main message for agreeable people to avoid being exploited?

  • a. Be less emotional
  • b. Be more assertive
  • c. Be less agreeable
  • d. Be more competitive
  • Answer: b


  1. Learn to negotiate on your own behalf.
    • This tip is particularly important for agreeable people who tend to shy away from conflict and prioritize the needs of others. By learning to assert yourself and communicate your own wants and needs clearly, you can avoid being taken advantage of and establish healthier, more balanced relationships.
  2. Tell the truth about what you think, even if it's harsh.
    • Agreeable people may avoid conflict by glossing over difficult issues or saying what they think others want to hear. However, this can lead to repressed anger and resentment, which can ultimately damage relationships. By being honest about how you feel, you can establish more authentic connections with others and work through issues in a constructive way.
  3. Be mindful of the demands of the mother-infant dyad.
    • According to Peterson, the nervous systems of women may be adapted to the demands of caring for infants, which can involve being responsive to a vulnerable, helpless creature 24/7. Understanding the demands and stresses of this role can help you develop greater empathy and patience towards yourself and others.
  4. Recognize the contradictory demands of inclusiveness and high-level performance.
    • Agreeable people may prioritize inclusiveness and caring for others over achieving high-level performance or success in a hierarchical environment. However, this can lead to being taken advantage of and undervalued. Recognizing this tension and finding a balance between the two can allow for greater productivity and fulfillment.
  5. Find ways to tap into your sense of self and what you want.
    • Agreeable people may be so focused on pleasing others that they neglect their own desires and needs. However, developing a sense of self and figuring out what you want can lead to greater fulfillment and a sense of purpose. This may involve taking time for yourself, exploring new hobbies or interests, or seeking therapy to help you identify your priorities.

Of these tips, learning to negotiate on your own behalf and telling the truth about what you think are perhaps the most important and practical for everyday life. By developing strong communication skills and setting clear boundaries, you can improve relationships and avoid being taken advantage of. Additionally, being honest about how you feel and expressing your opinions openly can help you connect with others in a more authentic way.