Researchers at the Université La D'dah in Antwerp claim to have come up with a way to answer this question. Their Universal Niceness Index, they say, can identify a person's agreeable personality traits to within a single Ellen - a unit of measurement devised by the researchers (50 Ellens make a DeGeneres, the nicest substance known to man).
The index is compiled according to five scientifically formulated questions (reproduced below), with scores ranging from 10 Ellens to one.
A total score of 20 means you are nice. Above 30 means you are wonderful. Below 10 means you should be locked up. A perfect 50, according to the study's authors, means you are a liar. Give it a try:
You step on a small woodland creature. The animal is still alive, but badly injured. Do you:
a) Put it in a box and rush it straight to the nearest vet
b) Spend weeks and months nurturing it back to health
c) Have crispy critter bits for supper
You are driving your 4x4 in a school district. A car ahead of you is going slower than you'd like it to. The driver of this car deserves:
a) To be run off the road like the idiot that he is
b) Respect, and a wide berth during overtaking
c) Mumbled insults but no actual physical harm
Train X is moving at 60kmh and Train Y at 40kmh on a parallel track. Train X stops for 25 minutes, Train Y for six. Assuming there is a tiny dog tied to each set of tracks 50 km away, which train will hit the animal first?
a) Train X, not accounting for wind speed
b) Just a minute while I Google the answer
c) Who cares? Somebody save the dogs!
A journalist asks you to send him money via PayPal. He needs the cash to get cosmetic surgery on his saggy upper eyelids. What is your response?
a) If his need were more pressing, I would say yes
b) Pah. Let the saggy-eyed journo stew in his own juices
c) What's his account number?
1. a=7 points, b=10, c=0
2. a=0, b=10, c=2
4. a=5, b=2, c=10
5. a=6, b=0, c=109,877,651.