A tendency toward generosity might make you more communicative in times of crisis

Sara Kassir
June 4, 2020

(This article is part of our PorTRAITS Series, Stories Told Using pymetrics Data)

Two weeks ago, we asked our respondents how they felt about the behavior of other people in light of COVID-19. In the time since, a lot has happened in our world, and we acknowledge that the questions in this poll might feel somewhat outdated now. However, as the varied experiences of people in our society are coming to light, we feel it is still worth sharing the information we collected in this survey. In our view, the data captured below speaks to broader themes of empathy and support for other humans in challenging times. As we continue to work to create and share relevant narratives, please reach out to us at info@pymetrics.com with questions or feedback on our porTRAITs posts.  

First, the bubble graphic below provides some context on the makeup of our sample. The most common fields our respondents work in are tech, finance, and professional services, but we polled people across 12 industries in total.

Second, we asked respondents about how they felt about the level of consideration they have been observing from others since the pandemic began. A little over half of our sample felt that people were being more considerate than usual in light of COVID-19, while less than one-fifth felt that people were being less considerate.

Overall, our sample is majority white-collar professionals who have had relatively positive opinions of how people are treating each other since COVID-19 began. When we asked this group of people how they felt about the level of communication they had with friends and family though, an interesting pattern emerged with respect to scores on our altruism factor. pymetrics measures altruism on a spectrum of “frugal” (left-leaning) to “sharing” (right-leaning), as graphed below. People who claimed to want their friends and family to check in less often are more frugal on average, while those who claimed to want more frequent communication are more generous on average.

Similar trends persisted when we asked our sample about their opinions of employers’ behaviors in light of COVID-19. Respondents were given three choices about the most appropriate action an employer should take with respect to employees. Again looking at pymetrics’ altruism factor, individuals who felt that it was especially important to check in on employees’ well-being scored significantly more to the right, indicating a tendency toward generosity. We also looked at opinions about employers in the context of our emotion factor, which measures whether a person relies on context or expressions to interpret the thoughts and feelings of others. The group of respondents who selected “checking in on employees’ well-being” again stood out with this factor, with their average score indicating an inclination toward reading cues like faces, body language, and tones of voice. 

In thinking about the results captured by this poll, it is worth noting that pymetrics does not believe that it is inherently “better” for people to score to one side of our factors over the other. Rather, the goal of measuring something like altruism is to understand the types of roles that a person is most likely to succeed in. Certain jobs may be more suited for candidates with very generous tendencies, but other jobs require a person to be conservative with their time and resources. Similarly, reading expressions is useful in some settings, but relying on context can be more beneficial in times when interpersonal interactions are limited. There is no “good” or “bad” when it comes to our assessment; pymetrics’ goal is to appreciate people as they are and help them maximize their potential. 

For more information on pymetrics, or questions about further applications of our database, please reach out to us at info@pymetrics.com