10 personality traits that show you’re a good person (according to psychology)

Being a good person is about more than just being nice. It’s about the traits that define us and guide our actions.

As per psychology, there are certain key qualities that truly good people possess. These traits aren’t just about outward behavior, but also about our internal values and attitudes.

In this article, we’ll explore these defining characteristics. Whether you’re looking to nurture these traits in yourself or identify them in others, stick around.

Prepare to dive into the fascinating world of what makes a person truly good. This isn’t about judgement, it’s about understanding and growth. 

Let’s get started. 

1) Empathy

Empathy is more than just understanding another person’s perspective. It’s about genuinely feeling what they are going through.

Psychologists often point to empathy as a key trait of good people. This ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to truly feel their joy or pain, is a powerful indicator of a good-hearted individual.

It’s not always easy to cultivate empathy. It requires patience, openness, and a willingness to step outside of your own experiences. But it’s a trait that can transform relationships and deepen connections.

Empathy helps us to be kinder, more understanding, and more compassionate. It encourages us to help others and to strive for fairness and justice.

If you find yourself naturally feeling for others, or if you’re willing to work on developing this trait, you’re on the path to being a good person, according to psychology.

Just remember, empathy isn’t about losing yourself in someone else’s emotions. It’s about understanding and sharing those feelings while still maintaining your own emotional health.

That’s the true mark of empathy and a sign of being a genuinely good person.

2) Honesty

Honesty is another trait that psychologists often associate with good people. Being truthful, even when it’s difficult, shows integrity and respect for others.

I remember a time when I faced a tough decision that tested my honesty. I found a wallet on a park bench, stuffed with cash and credit cards. No one was around, and it would have been easy to pocket the money and walk away.

But I knew that the right thing to do was to try and return the wallet to its owner. I looked inside and found an ID card. After a bit of online searching, I managed to find the owner’s contact details and arranged to return the wallet.

The relief and gratitude in the owner’s voice when I called was worth far more than the money I could have taken. It was a clear reminder of why honesty is such an important trait.

Being honest doesn’t always lead to immediate rewards, and it can sometimes be uncomfortable. But it’s a trait that earns respect and trust, making it a key characteristic of being a good person.

3) Altruism

Altruism is the selfless concern for the well-being of others. It’s a trait that’s highly valued in society and one that psychologists often point to when defining what makes a good person.

Altruistic individuals are those who do good deeds without expecting anything in return. They volunteer their time, donate to causes they believe in, and help others without being asked.

Interestingly, studies have shown that altruistic behaviors can actually lead to greater personal happiness. Research conducted by the University of Zurich found that people who are generous and altruistic reported feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives.

Not only does being altruistic make you a good person in the eyes of others, but it can also contribute to your own sense of well-being and happiness. It’s a win-win situation!

4) Responsibility

Taking responsibility for one’s actions is another key trait of a good person. It’s about acknowledging your mistakes, learning from them, and making amends where necessary.

Good people don’t shy away from responsibility. They don’t make excuses or shift blame onto others. Instead, they step up, admit their errors, and seek to rectify them.

Responsibility also extends to our duties and obligations. Whether it’s meeting work deadlines, keeping promises to friends, or caring for family, good people understand their responsibilities and strive to fulfill them.

Being responsible shows reliability, trustworthiness, and a strong moral character – all hallmarks of a good person according to psychology. So if you’re someone who takes responsibility seriously, you’re already exhibiting one of the key traits of being a good person.

5) Respectfulness

Respectfulness is a trait that illustrates a deep regard for others, their rights, and their dignity. It’s a cornerstone of all positive and healthy relationships.

Good people treat others with respect regardless of their status, background, or beliefs. They value the opinions of others, even when they disagree. They treat others as they would like to be treated.

It’s not just about being polite or courteous. Respect is about acknowledging the inherent worth of every individual. It means not belittling or demeaning others, not invading their personal space or violating their rights.

In essence, respectfulness is a reflection of how we see and value humanity as a whole. If you consistently show respect to others, you’re demonstrating a key trait of being a good person.

6) Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful trait that not many possess, yet it is a defining characteristic of truly good people.

Holding onto grudges, resentment, or anger towards others who’ve wronged us can be emotionally draining. It can cloud our minds and harden our hearts. Yet, the act of forgiving someone can release these negative emotions and pave the way for healing and peace.

Good people understand this. They are able to forgive others, not because the actions were acceptable, but because they choose to free themselves from the burden of carrying that negativity.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or allowing harmful behaviors to continue. It means acknowledging the wrong, yet making a conscious decision to let go of its hold on you.

It takes a strong person to truly forgive. But when you do, it’s like taking a heavy weight off your shoulders. It allows room for growth, understanding and compassion – all qualities of a good person. So if you’re someone who practices forgiveness, you’re embodying a key trait of what it means to be truly good.

7) Gratitude

Gratitude is a trait that psychologists often link to increased happiness and satisfaction with life. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the good things around us, whether big or small.

I remember a time in my life when things were particularly tough. I was going through a personal loss and was struggling with feelings of sadness and despair. But one day, I started writing down three things I was grateful for each day. It could be something as simple as a sunny day, a kind word from a friend, or a good book.

Slowly but surely, this practice began to shift my perspective. I started noticing the good things around me more. It didn’t take away the pain or the loss, but it did help me to see that there were still positive things in my life.

Gratitude didn’t solve my problems, but it helped me to navigate them with a more positive outlook. It’s a trait that has become an integral part of my life and one that I believe makes me a better person.

8) Humility

In a world where self-promotion and personal branding are often valued, humility stands out as a somewhat unusual trait of good people. It’s not about diminishing your worth or achievements, but rather about recognizing that you’re just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Good people don’t need to boast about their accomplishments or seek constant praise. They let their actions speak for themselves. They understand that everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses, and they’re not afraid to admit when they’re wrong or don’t know something.

This isn’t to say that humble people lack confidence or ambition. On the contrary, they often possess a quiet confidence that doesn’t need external validation. Their satisfaction comes from growth, learning, and contributing positively to the world around them.

In essence, humility is about keeping your ego in check and recognizing your place in the grand scheme of things. If you display this trait, you’re showcasing a key characteristic of being a genuinely good person.

9) Patience

Patience is often overlooked as a trait of good people, yet it’s incredibly important. It’s about being able to tolerate delays, obstacles, or frustration without becoming agitated or upset.

Good people understand that things don’t always go according to plan. They know that people make mistakes and that change takes time. So, they practice patience.

They don’t rush others or pressure them into doing things before they are ready. They give people the time and space they need to grow, to learn, and to change.

Patience is a sign of respect and understanding. It shows that you value other people and their processes. It also shows a level of self-control and emotional maturity.

10) Kindness

At the heart of all these traits lies kindness. It’s the simple act of being friendly, generous, and considerate to others.

Kindness can be as simple as a warm smile, a helping hand, or a thoughtful word. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures or heroic acts. Often, it’s the small, everyday actions that make the biggest impact.

Kindness is more than just a trait. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s choosing to be positive, to uplift others, to bring joy where there’s sadness and light where there’s darkness.

Above all else, kindness is the most telling sign of a good person. It’s the glue that holds all these other traits together. If you strive to be kind in all you do, you’re not only being a good person – you’re making the world a better place.

Final thoughts: It’s all about growth

Being a good person isn’t necessarily about ticking off a checklist of traits. It’s about a continuous journey of growth, self-improvement, and understanding.

These traits we’ve discussed – empathy, honesty, altruism, responsibility, respectfulness, forgiveness, gratitude, humility, patience, and kindness – they’re not boxes to be checked. They’re signposts on the road to personal development.

The beauty of human nature lies in our capacity for change and growth. We’re not static beings. We can learn, adapt, and evolve. We can strive to be better each day.

Remember, nobody is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. What matters is that we acknowledge them and work towards improving ourselves.

The psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

And that’s what being a good person is about. It’s not a destination you arrive at one day. It’s a direction you choose to take every day.

So as you reflect on these traits, remember that it’s not about being perfect. It’s about striving to be better. It’s about choosing kindness over cruelty, honesty over deceit, and empathy over indifference.

In the end, the most important trait of a good person is the willingness to grow and evolve – for the betterment of oneself and others around us.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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