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Personality and Academic Performance

Authors:
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Personality and Academic Performance
Anna Vedela* and Arthur E. Poropatb
aDepartment of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
bSchool of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, QLD, Australia
Keywords
Personality; Big Five; Five Factor Model, Academic Performance, GPA, grades
Definition
Personality refers to individual differences in the way we feel, think, and behave. Personality is the
unique combination of characteristics and qualities that makes you “you” across situations and
contexts. As such, personality is both fundamental for our understanding of and engagement with
the world. Academic performance is the assessment of the extent to which an individual—typically
a student—has achieved an educational goal. Most often academic performance is operationalized
as grades (e.g. Grade Point Average (GPA)), or, alternatively, highest level of educational
attainment.
Introduction
A high educational level is desirable not only for the individual, but also their societies and
associated economies. Educational success commonly leads to enhanced occupational status and
high earnings (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991), and societies with well-educated workforces tend to
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*Email: avedel@psy.au.dk
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enjoy both greater economic growth (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2012) and social gains such as
greater civic engagement and reduced crime rates (Bloom, Hartley, & Rosovsky, 2007). This value
accruing to educational success places a premium upon the identification of factors predicting
academic performance. The following sections provide a brief historical overview of this research
with an emphasis on the role of personality in academic performance.
Cognitive Predictors of Academic Performance
Historically, the search for predictors of academic performance began with a strong focus on
cognitive abilities. The influential work of Binet and Simon (1916) aimed at measuring students’
differential academic potential by means of intelligence tests, while Spearman (1904) identified a
general intelligence factor, g, by applying an early version of factor analysis to academic
performance measures. These works inspired considerable educational research throughout the
twentieth century and led to findings that intelligence can reliably predict academic performance
(for an overview, see Chamorro-Premuzic, 2007).
Early Research on Personality Predictors of Academic Performance
In parallel with this research has been a long tradition of research on non-cognitive predictors of
academic performance. A notable early study was reported by Webb (1915), who examined the
importance of students’ “character” for academic performance, and provided early evidence that
intelligence was not the only individual difference associated with academic performance.
Specifically, Webb identified a will factor, which he labeled w, implying a comparison with
Spearman’s g. Like g, Webb’s w effectively summarized a range of measures of students, and had
an important association with academic performance, yet this association was independent from g.
However, Webb’s w factor received little attention in subsequent research until relatively recently.
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Instead, reviews during the twentieth century concluded that research on personality and academic
performance was hampered by the use of inconsistent approaches to and measurements of
personality, leading to inconsistent results that were difficult to interpret (De Raad &
Schouwenburg, 1996). De Raad and Schouwenburg (1996) particularly argued for the adoption of a
consistent personality framework, making use of the five-factor model (FFM) of personality to
organize their review. This advocacy has been reflected in subsequent research, and the widespread
use of FFM-based measures in educational research has enabled a reassessment of the relationship
between personality and academic performance, leading to the recognition of reliable and important
estimates of the role of personality in education.
The Five-Factor Model and Academic Performance
The history of the FFM is dealt with elsewhere in this encyclopedia, but it is important to note its
components here. Put simply, the FFM includes the most frequently appearing lexical personality
dimensions on which people vary (Poropat & Corr, 2015). These dimensions can be summarized as:
agreeableness (reflecting qualities of being friendly, modest, and accommodating);
conscientiousness (dutiful, diligent, and orderly); emotional stability (relaxed, balanced, patient),
though often denominated by its opposite pole, neuroticism (moody, ruminating, irritable);
extraversion (outgoing, sociable, active); and openness (curiosity about and tolerance for diverse
cultural and intellectual experiences), sometimes denoted intellect (Saucier & Goldberg, 1996).
Recent meta-analyses of educational research based on FFM measures (Poropat, 2009; Richardson,
Abraham, & Bond, 2012) have shown that there are indeed consistent associations between
personality and academic performance.
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Conscientiousness
Encompassing facets such as achievement striving and self-discipline, conscientiousness has much
in common with Webb’s w factor, and conscientiousness is indeed the FFM factor showing the
strongest correlations with academic performance (Poropat, 2009; Richardson et al., 2012).
Conscientiousness consistently predicts grades in primary, secondary, and tertiary academic
education, rivaling intelligence (r = .21: Richardson et al., 2012) in predictive validity in tertiary
education (r = .23: Richardson et al., 2012). These correlations are substantially stronger when
conscientiousness has been rated by a knowledgeable other-rater, such as students’ parents, peers
and teachers, both in primary education (r = .50: Poropat, 2014a) and in secondary and tertiary
education (r = .38: Poropat, 2014b).
The exact processes by which conscientiousness is linked with academic performance are
incompletely understood, but research has linked conscientiousness to a wide range of behaviors
and abilities conducive to academic performance, which may explain part of the association.
Importantly, conscientiousness is strongly associated with effortful control (Poropat, 2016), a
dimension of temperament reflecting self-regulatory abilities such as the ability to willfully direct
attention to and sustain focus on a task, as well as the ability to intentionally initiate or inhibit
actions (Rothbart, 2007). These self-regulatory abilities are fundamental for goal-directed behavior,
planning, impulse control, and norm following, which are all defining features of conscientiousness
(Roberts, Jackson, Fayard, Edmonds, & Meints, 2009).
In the educational context, more conscientious students score more highly on learning-related
factors such as persistence (Komarraju & Karau, 2005), achievement motivation (Richardson &
Abraham, 2009), class attendance (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2003; Conard, 2006), and use
of self-regulatory learning strategies (Bidjerano & Dai, 2007; McKenzie, Gow, & Schweitzer,
2004) than their non-conscientious counterparts. Each of these factors reliably predicts student
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achievement (Hattie, 2009), so these associations may account for much of the association between
conscientiousness and academic performance. Further, conscientious students have been shown to
be more highly task-focused and employ more problem-focused coping strategies, which facilitates
their learning and academic performance in the face of adversity (MacCann, Lipnevich, Burrus, &
Roberts, 2012; Saklofske, Austin, Mastoras, Beaton, & Osborne, 2012).
Ultimately, conscientiousness is associated with retention (e.g. Alarcon & Edwards, 2013). More
conscientious students are more likely to complete their educational programs, which is likely to be
due to the same conscientiousness-related abilities and behaviors promoting academic performance.
Openness
Apart from conscientiousness, openness is the FFM factor most strongly associated with academic
performance (Poropat, 2009, 2014a, 2014b; Richardson et al., 2012). In primary education self-
rated openness is almost equally effective as conscientiousness in statistically predicting academic
performance, though less effective in secondary and tertiary education (Poropat, 2009).
However, as with other-rated conscientiousness, other-rated openness is more closely linked with
academic performance than is intelligence, at least in secondary and tertiary education (r = .28:
Poropat, 2014b).
Among the FFM dimensions, openness is probably the most complicated and certainly the most
highly debated. The reason for this indeterminacy is that the openness factor includes both a
creative component reflecting artistic and contemplative interests, and an intellect component that
reflects curiosity and approach to learning. It is the intellect-curiosity component in particular that
drives the correlations between openness and academic performance (von Stumm, Hell, &
Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011), and the intellect-curiosity component also seems to account for the
correlations between openness and intelligence consistently found (Ackerman & Heggestad, 1997;
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Goff & Ackerman, 1992). Individuals who score more highly on openness tend to seek out and
enjoy new and cognitively stimulating activities, apparently resulting in cognitive growth and
accumulation of knowledge. As such, openness, and especially the intellect aspect of openness,
belongs among the “intellectual investment traits” (von Stumm & Ackerman, 2013).
Research on motivational constructs supports the notion that openness facilitates academic
performance partly through self-imposed “intellectual investment”. Students high on openness are
more curious and investigative, more intrinsically motivated to know, think, and analyze, and more
interested in improving mental abilities and increasing competencies (Bernard, 2010; Clark &
Schroth, 2010; Komarraju & Karau, 2005; Komarraju, Karau, & Schmeck, 2009). Such students
also tend to have a deep learning approach (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2009) and reflective
learning styles and learning strategies, such as elaborative processing and critical thinking
(Bidjerano & Dai, 2007; Komarraju, Karau, Schmeck, & Avdic, 2011), all of which have been
shown to mediate the relationship between openness and academic performance (Komarraju et al.,
2011; Swanberg & Martinsen, 2010). Additionally, openness is the FFM factor most strongly
associated with learning goal orientation (Payne, Youngcourt, & Beaubien, 2007). Learning goal
orientation is itself reliably associated with academic performance (Richardson et al., 2012), and
also mediates the relationship between openness and academic performance (Steinmayr, Bipp, &
Spinath, 2011). These motivational aspects to openness appear to affect not only short-term
academic outcomes: openness also predicts overall educational attainment, so that individuals high
on openness are more likely to achieve a high educational level during their lives (e.g. Costa et al.,
1986).
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Agreeableness
Self-rated agreeableness has positive correlations with academic performance (Poropat, 2009;
Richardson et al., 2012), but these correlations are modest except in primary education (r = .30:
Poropat, 2009). When other-rated, correlations between agreeableness and academic performance
are unaffected by level of education, but remain relatively modest (r = .09: Poropat 2014a; r = .10:
Poropat, 2014b). Agreeableness is associated with accommodating and cooperative attitudes
towards the social environment and a compliant response to social demands. As such, the agreeable
student’s desire to “get along” with others (e.g. teachers and parents) manifests itself in academic
motivation and in behaviors aimed at improving academic performance, predominantly through
surface learning (Vermetten, Lodewijks, & Vermunt, 2001). Likewise, agreeableness is associated
with extrinsic types of academic motivation, meaning that more agreeable individuals tend to
choose to identify with and integrate socially accepted values they meet in academia, leading more
agreeable students to value academic performance because it is the socially accepted value in
educational settings (Clark & Schroth, 2010; Komarraju et al., 2009). Consistent with this,
agreeableness has been associated with academic persistence motivation, interest in self-
improvement, and grades orientation (Komarraju & Karau, 2005).
This social compliance is reflected behaviorally, with more agreeable students spending more time
on homework and procrastinating less (Lubbers, Van Der Werf, Kuyper, & Hendriks, 2010),
employing more self-regulatory learning strategies and learning styles, such as time management,
effort regulation, elaborative processing, and fact retention (Bidjerano & Dai, 2007; Komarraju et
al., 2011). These motivational and behavioral factors help to explain why agreeableness has a
positive, though limited, association with academic performance.
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Emotional Stability
In primary education, there is a noteworthy association between self-rated emotional stability and
academic performance (r = .20: Poropat, 2009), but in secondary and tertiary education this
correlation is negligible (r = .01 and -.01, respectively: Poropat, 2009). However, as with
agreeableness, correlations between academic performance and other-rated emotional stability
remain stable across educational levels (r = .18 at all levels: Poropat, 2014a, 2014b). This
difference in correlations appears to be due to the fact that emotional stability is the FFM dimension
that is most subject to rater biases (Poropat & Corr, 2015).
Emotional stability encompasses a relaxed and calm mode of feeling, thinking, and behaving, and it
is a robust predictor of subjective well-being (Steel, Schmidt, & Shultz, 2008). Emotionally stable
individuals have lower levels of negative affect and higher quality of life, and they are less prone to
suffer from psychological disorders (Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, & Watson, 2010; Steel et al., 2008).
Emotional stability is also associated with performance self-efficacy (Judge & Ilies, 2002), which in
turn is strongly predictive of academic performance (r = .59: Richardson et al., 2012).
In light of this, one might expect that emotional stability would translate into purely positive
motivations and outcomes in academia. However, the relationship between emotional stability and
academic performance has proven to be more complex. Demonstrating this complexity, more
emotionally stable individuals are more likely to willfully focus on and learn from errors (Zhao,
2011) and employ learning styles and strategies conducive to academic performance in general,
such as analyzing, organizing, and integrating new material with previous knowledge (Komarraju et
al., 2011; Lubbers et al., 2010). However, emotional stability is also associated with being less
likely to rehearse material, and more emotionally stable students allocate less time to homework
(Bidjerano & Dai, 2007; Lubbers et al., 2010). Adding to this complexity, low levels of emotional
stability are associated with academic amotivation, debilitating anxiety, withdrawing, and feeling
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discouraged about school (Clark & Schroth, 2010; Komarraju & Karau, 2005; Komarraju et al.,
2009), but also with an orientation towards achieving good grades (Komarraju & Karau, 2005). The
latter possibly reflects fear of failure, since low emotional stability is associated with goals of
avoiding negative evaluations and the perception of incompetence relative to others (Payne et al.,
2007).
So, it appears that because individuals who are higher on emotional stability are less motivated by
such avoidance goals, they are less inclined to spend time on homework and rehearsal.
Extraversion
Extraversion has only modest correlations with academic performance overall (Poropat, 2009;
Richardson et al., 2012) with the strongest relationship being between self-rated extraversion and
academic performance in primary education (r = .18: Poropat, 2009). Correlations of other-rated
extraversion with academic performance in primary (r = .11: Poropat, 2014a) and secondary and
tertiary education (r = .05: Poropat, 2014b) are also relatively modest when compared with the
other FFM dimensions. So, extraversion has some relevance to academic performance, but care
should be taken to avoid over-interpreting these modest associations.
However, extraversion has been reliably linked with a range of learning-relevant variables.
More extraverted individuals generally have higher subjective well-being such as positive affect
and quality of life, most likely due to the creation of positive life experiences facilitated by the
sociability component of extraversion (Steel et al., 2008). This sociability, assertiveness, and active
engagement with the social environment characterizing extraverted individuals may be beneficial
for learning that involves frequent interactions with teachers or peers. Consistent with this, more
extraverted students are better at seeking help from peers and instructors, when they encounter
learning difficulties (Bidjerano & Dai, 2007). This enables better understanding, but it also makes
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the student more visible to the teacher (Poropat, 2014a). Being visible can have a positive effect on
the student’s academic standing, because teachers in primary education, where interaction between
students and teachers is most frequent, have the tendency to perceive shy children as less intelligent
and less academically gifted than their more talkative counterparts (Coplan, Hughes, Bosacki, &
Rose-Krasnor, 2011). This may explain the positive association between extraversion and academic
performance found at this educational level. However, these same characteristics of sociability and
orientation towards the social environment may also pose a challenge to the extraverted student.
Students high on extraversion are generally more academically motivated and have higher learning
goal orientation (Clark & Schroth, 2010; Payne et al., 2007), but they are also motivated to spend
time with friends, participate in societies and events, explore the social environment, etc. (Bernard,
2010). This sociability-induced distractibility may partly explain why the association between
extraversion and academic performance is reduced at higher academic levels, where students have
more responsibility for their own learning.
Alternative Personality Models and Academic Performance
The past few decades have seen the domination of research on personality and academic
performance by the FFM, but other trait constructs and personality models have been employed as
well. The biologically based Eysenckian personality model (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975) has been an
influential alternative to the FFM, in educational research as in psychology in general. Two of the
personality factors in the Eysenckian personality model, extraversion and neuroticism, are very
similar to extraversion and emotional stability (reversed) in the FFM and show similar associations
with academic performance. Furthermore, the psychoticism factor in the Eysenckian model partly
overlaps with conscientiousness (reversed), but unlike conscientiousness, psychoticism shows only
limited predictive validity for academic performance (Poropat, 2011). Taken together, the
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Eysenckian personality model does not offer incremental validity for academic performance when
compared to the FFM.
Various isolated personality constructs have also been associated with academic performance,
though much less frequently studied. Notably, need for cognition and emotional intelligence have
shown positive correlations with GPA, whereas procrastination is negatively associated with GPA
(Richardson et al., 2012), which is consistent with the strong negative association between
procrastination and conscientiousness (Steel, 2007).
One of the limitations of the FFM is that it was developed on the basis of factor-analyzing common-
language descriptors of personality (Saucier & Goldberg, 1996), rendering it largely atheoretical,
even if it has been shown to be highly useful. It is for this reason that so much attention has been
paid to efforts at explaining why these empirically-derived personality factors should be associated
with academic performance. By contrast, reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) provides a model
of personality that is rooted in behavioral learning theory (Corr, 2004), which makes RST appealing
as a model that potentially could explain the associations between personality and academic
performance. However, research on RST in academic settings is scarce (Poropat, 2016), and it
remains uncertain what utility RST has in educational research in relation to individual differences
in learning and performance (Matthews, 2008).
Moderators
As indicated earlier, academic level moderates the relationship between the FFM and academic
performance. Only conscientiousness is consistently associated with academic performance across
primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and
extraversion all have lower correlations with academic performance in secondary and tertiary
education (Poropat, 2009, 2016).
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However, the moderating effect of educational level interacts with the way personality is measured.
For the past half-century, personality has typically been assessed using self-ratings, and most
research on relationships between personality and academic performance therefore reports results
based on self-rated personality. But as summarized previously, use of other-rated measures of the
FFM produce markedly different correlations of FFM traits with academic performance.
Some of the explanation for the discrepancies in predictive validity between self-rated and other-
rated personality may originate in self-raters’ desirability biases. A recent study has found that more
educated individuals perceive openness as more desirable and are also more prone to overstate their
level of openness in self-reports (Ludeke, 2014), while self-raters tend to assess emotional stability
in ways that make it less useful for predicting academic performance (Poropat, 2014b). In research
on academic performance, this bias would not only make self-reported levels of openness
unreliable, it would also result in an underestimation of the true correlation between openness and
academic performance. Other-ratings are less influenced by desirability bias, and they have the
additional strength that they are based on observed behavior, not on intentional behavior.
Finally, academic major has been shown to moderate the associations between the FFM traits and
academic performance in tertiary education (Vedel, 2014; Vedel, Thomsen, & Larsen, 2015).
Conscientiousness, for example, appears to be a comparatively stronger predictor of GPA for
psychology and law students than for economics students. And whereas openness seems to benefit
political science students academically, the opposite seems to be the case for law students (Vedel et
al., 2015). Research has consistently shown that students in different majors differ from each other
at the group level on the FFM traits (Vedel, 2016), and it seems likely that different personality
traits are beneficial in different academic disciplines. This would parallel findings from job
performance research showing differential predictive validity of the FFM traits in different
occupations (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Barrick, Mount, & Judge, 2001). However, academic major is
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a little studied moderator, and our current knowledge about its effect on the associations between
the FFM traits and academic performance is limited.
Conclusion
A century has passed since Webb (1915) highlighted the need to look beyond cognitive abilities in
the search for predictors of academic performance, but it is only in recent reviews that it has
become clear that personality is at least as, if not more, important than intelligence in educational
settings. Conscientiousness has emerged as the personality factor most strongly correlated with
academic performance, but both openness and emotional stability have important associations with
educational success. It is now clear that Webb was right to look past intelligence to “character”
when attempting to understand academic performance. Personality matters in important life
outcomes from health to occupational attainment and romantic relationships (Roberts, Kuncel,
Shiner, Caspi, & Goldberg, 2007)—it is clear that academic performance is no exception.
Cross-References
Big Five Model
Intelligence-Personality Associations
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Lexical Approach
Observer-Report Assessment of Personality and Individual Differences
Performance goals
Persistence
Personality and Occupational Success
Personality, Personnel Selection and Job Performance
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... It is also "the strongest predictor of academic performance at the three educational levels: primary, secondary and tertiary" (p. 86; Vedel & Poropat, 2017), with "conscientious students generally having better grades (p. 86; Trautwein et al., 2015). ...
... We saw earlier that Conscientiousness "is the strongest predictor of academic performance at the three educational levels" (p. 86; Vedel & Poropat, 2017). But "It is argued that more intelligent individuals are not conscientious" (p. ...
... But on the other hand, we saw earlier that Conscientiousness is "the strongest predictor of academic performance at the three educational levels: primary, secondary and tertiary (p. 86; Vedel & Poropat, 2017). This is consistent with Kuhn's observation that science seldom uses the creativity of Openness but instead spends most of its time using technical thought to solve puzzles-behavior an observer would describe as Conscientiousness. ...
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Mental symmetry is a neurologically sound meta-theory of cognition, which is currently being verified and expanded by using it to analyze various fields from a cognitive perspective. I recently examined prominent theories of Second Language Acquisition and came across a 2020 book by Ewa Piechurska-Kuciel entitled The Big Five in SLA which contains an extensively referenced chapter on Big Five. Mental symmetry began as a system of cognitive styles and Big Five is the most prominent system of personality traits. This paper uses the theory of mental symmetry to analyze Big Five from a cognitive perspective, focusing upon Piechurska-Kuciel's chapter on Big Five.
... The Big Five domains and their subfacets have proven to be valid predictors of a wide range of outcomes, including academic success, well-being, health, and work performance (De Fruyt et al., 2017;Soto & John, 2017). With regard to academic success, for example, a growing body of research has found that more conscientious and open-minded students obtain better school grades and standardized test scores, whereas agreeableness, negative emotionality, and extraversion have been found to show weaker and less consistent associations with achievement indicators (for a review, see Vedel & Poropat, 2017; for meta-analyses, see Almlund et al., 2011;Poropat, 2009). Moreover, empirical evidence has shown that the Big Five subfacet level has incremental and differential value compared to the domain level as the subfacets allow for a more comprehensive and fine-grained description of individual differences and enable a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying the trait-outcome relationships (Danner et al., 2021;Paunonen & Ashton, 2001). ...
... For instance, one could easily imagine that depending on their personality, students attribute teachers' feedback, classroom contexts, or performance comparisons with peers differently to their academic abilities. For example, more extraverted students interact more frequently with their teachers and peers as they are better at seeking help from them when encountering learning difficulties, which ultimately enables better understanding (Vedel & Poropat, 2017) and leads to such students receiving feedback on their academic performance more frequently. This might lead to more extraverted students perceiving their ASC as higher across different school lessons. ...
... The current study's findings further support the relevance of Big Five traits, which are increasingly considered as crucial for a range of life outcomes (for a review, see De Fruyt et al., 2017). In the educational context, Big Five traits have already been found to be substantially implicated in students' academic achievement, even independent of their cognitive abilities (Poropat, 2009;Vedel & Poropat, 2017). Likewise, our findings suggest that Big Five traits are important antecedents of one of the most important motivational variables in the academic context, namely ASC (i.e., state level and variability therein), even beyond students' reasoning ability and GPA. ...
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A positive academic self-concept (ASC) relates to many desirable educational outcomes. Research on which student characteristics relate to the formation of ASC is therefore crucial. To examine the importance of personality for ASC, we investigated the relation between Big Five traits and mean level as well as within-person variability in state general-school ASC for the first time using intensive longitudinal data. The sample comprised N = 291 German ninth and 10th graders who completed a 3-week e-diary after filling in a 60-item Big Five questionnaire assessing extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, negative emotionality, and open-mindedness as well as their respective subfacets (15 subfacets overall). To assess state ASC, students completed three items after each lesson in four different subjects (resulting in Mlessons = 21.32). We ran six mixed-effects location scale models: one with all broad Big Five domains and five (one for each Big Five domain) with the subfacets as predictors of state ASC. Higher scores in the domains and in at least one subfacet of open-mindedness, conscientiousness, and extraversion but lower scores in negative emotionality were related to higher mean levels of state ASC. Higher scores in depression (subfacet of negative emotionality) were related to greater within-person variability in state ASC. These findings suggest that Big Five traits are predictors of mean level and within-person variability in students’ state ASC, thus contributing to a more complete map of the formation of students’ ASC and the role of personality therein. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
... Majority of the studies focused on the role of personality in academic achievement, highlighting conscientiousness as the most important personality determinant of educational performance across all educational levels (Bratko et al., 2006;Poropat, 2016;Vedel & Poropat, 2017). This relation is particularly strong when conscientiousness is rated by significant others such as parents or teachers (Poropat, 2014a;MacCann et al., 2015). ...
... Other-rated agreeableness, however, demonstrates low correlations with academic achievement across educational levels (Poropat, 2014a, b). Cooperativeness and compliance of agreeable students appear to be particularly advantageous at the level of primary education, where relations with teachers and peers are closer and favourable ratings of socially desirable student behaviours are reflected in teacher assessments of student achievement (Vedel & Poropat, 2017). Extraversion is another interpersonal dimension positively related to academic achievement at the elementary school level, while this relation diminishes or even becomes modestly negative in secondary and tertiary education (Poropat, 2009(Poropat, , 2016Noftle & Robins, 2007). ...
... As with agreeableness, closer interactions with students in the elementary school classrooms may result in teacher ratings that are more saturated with personality factors, while more distant relations with students reduce the role of student personality in teacher assessments of student achievement at the higher levels of education (Poropat, 2009). In addition, sociability of extraverted students could be advantageous for academic performance at the elementary school level where social relations play a more prominent role, while at the higher educational levels, it may have adverse effects on student learning (Vedel & Poropat, 2017). ...
Article
In this study, we examined the mediating role of academic self-efficacy and motivational learning strategies in the relationship between personality and elementary school students’ achievement. The data were collected using a questionnaire that was administered to 511 Croatian eighth-grade students (14–15 years old) and analysed using Hayes’s PROCESS procedure. The results suggest that conscientious students have higher grade point average (GPA) which can partially be explained with their relatively high academic self-efficacy and avoidance of using strategies of protecting self-esteem. Findings also indicate serial mediating effects of academic self-efficacy and strategies of protecting self-esteem on the relationship between conscientiousness and GPA. Openness was positively related to GPA, but only indirectly, through academic self-efficacy. Furthermore, we found an indirect effect of agreeableness on GPA through less frequent use of strategies aimed at protecting self-esteem. Neuroticism and extraversion showed no direct nor indirect effects on GPA. Additionally, students with higher academic self-efficacy were less inclined to use strategies of protecting self-esteem. However, there was no effect of academic self-efficacy on strategies of promoting learning process. This study adds to the existing literature by specifically examining serial mediation of academic self-efficacy and learning strategies in the relationship between personality and GPA.
... Intelligence, a facilitator of understanding and learning (Ackerman et al., 2011), has been considered the single most important predictor of academic achievement (Von Stumm & Furnham, 2012). However, since it rarely explains more than 25% of achievement variance (Bergold & Steinmayr, 2018), other non-cognitive predictors (Vedel & Poropat, 2017) such as personality dispositions have begun to be examined. The underlying rationale involves: (1) the importance of personality factors in predicting socially valued behavior; and (2) the recognition of personality as a component of an individual's willingness to perform (Poropat, 2009). ...
... The contradictory character of both influences could explain the lower association of extraversion with academic achievement and, even, the positive sense of such association in primary education and negative in secondary and tertiary education (Bernard, 2010;Israel et al., 2019). Even more complex appears to be the association with neuroticism (Vedel & Poropat, 2017): individuals high on this dimension focus on avoiding failure and getting good grades (Komarraju & Karau, 2005), while their high levels of anxiety make them feel discouraged about school (Clark & Schroth, 2010). ...
... The decrease in the association between openness and academic achievement found at higher academic levels (Poropat, 2009;Vedel & Poropat, 2017) could also be explained, at least in part, by the disparate performance of the components included in this personality domain. The disposition toward novelty and experimentation (openness to experience) can favor achievement in primary school, where children experience a new environment that is different from the family context they previously knew. ...
Article
Resumen A la hora de predecir el éxito académico y adoptar una visión más amplia de los factores implicados, la personalidad y, recientemente, el compromiso académico han emergido como constructos relevantes. Este estudio examina la capacidad predictiva del Modelo de los Cinco Grandes (dominios y facetas, BFQ) en el rendimiento y compromiso académico, así como el papel mediador del compromiso en la relación entre personalidad y rendimiento. Los resultados obtenidos en una muestra de 611 adolescentes españoles muestran que (1) Responsabilidad (dominios y facetas) tiene efectos positivos directos e indirectos en el rendimiento académico a través del compromiso mientras (2) Apertura sólo muestra efectos indirectos y sus facetas presentan un patrón de efectos opuestos y desiguales. Estos resultados no varían por sexo y subrayan la importancia de examinar rasgos de personalidad más específicos que los definidos por las dimensiones básicas para aumentar la comprensión de las relaciones entre la personalidad y el rendimiento académico y, con ello, la capacidad de diseñar estrategias que lo incrementen.
... Intelligence, a facilitator of understanding and learning (Ackerman et al., 2011), has been considered the single most important predictor of academic achievement (Von Stumm & Furnham, 2012). However, since it rarely explains more than 25% of achievement variance (Bergold & Steinmayr, 2018), other non-cognitive predictors (Vedel & Poropat, 2017) such as personality dispositions have begun to be examined. The underlying rationale involves: (1) the importance of personality factors in predicting socially valued behavior; and (2) the recognition of personality as a component of an individual's willingness to perform (Poropat, 2009). ...
... The contradictory character of both influences could explain the lower association of extraversion with academic achievement and, even, the positive sense of such association in primary education and negative in secondary and tertiary education (Bernard, 2010;Israel et al., 2019). Even more complex appears to be the association with neuroticism (Vedel & Poropat, 2017): individuals high on this dimension focus on avoiding failure and getting good grades (Komarraju & Karau, 2005), while their high levels of anxiety make them feel discouraged about school (Clark & Schroth, 2010). ...
... The decrease in the association between openness and academic achievement found at higher academic levels (Poropat, 2009;Vedel & Poropat, 2017) could also be explained, at least in part, by the disparate performance of the components included in this personality domain. The disposition toward novelty and experimentation (openness to experience) can favor achievement in primary school, where children experience a new environment that is different from the family context they previously knew. ...
Article
In predicting academic success and adopting a broader view of the factors involved, personality and, recently, academic engagement have emerged as relevant constructs. This study examined the predictive ability of the Five-Factor Model (domains and facets; Big Five Questionnaire) for academic achievement and engagement (Spanish Version Student Utrecht Work Engagement Scale) and the mediating role of engagement in the relationship between personality and achievement. Results obtained in a sample of 611 Spanish adolescents show that (1) Conscientiousness (domains and facets) have positive direct and indirect effects on academic achievement through engagement and (2) Openness shows only indirect effects; its facets display a pattern of opposing, unequal effects. These results do not vary by sex and underline the importance of examining more specific personality traits than those defined by the basic dimensions to increase the understanding of the relationships between personality and academic achievement and, with it, the ability to design strategies to improve it.
... In general, arts/humanities students tend to be more open to experience (e.g., De Fruyt & Mervielde, 1996;Lievens, Coetsier, de Fruyt, & de Maeseneer, 2002;Vedel, 2016) and science students tend to be more conscientious than students in other academic fields (e.g., Kline & Lapham, 1992;Van der Molen, Schmidt, & Kruisman, 2007). However, it is unclear whether these differences imply that certain personality traits are also more beneficial for academic achievement in some academic fields than in others (Vedel & Poropat, 2020). For example, college majors in the academic field of science often emphasize independent problem solving which requires aspects of conscientiousness such as precision and persistence, while aspects of openness, such as creativity, aesthetic appreciation, philosophical depth, or inquisitiveness about the human world, are emphasized in arts/humanities studies (Pozzebon, Ashton, & Visser, 2014). ...
... Openness to experience, also named openness or intellect, includes being original, imaginative, daring, independentminded, creative, curious, and having broad interests (John & Srivastava, 1999;McCrae & Costa Jr., 1987). Academic achievement is mostly operationalized as grades in studies investigating the relation between personality traits and achievement (Vedel & Poropat, 2020). ...
... Instead, openness to experience, which has been shown to be consistently and positively correlated to creativity (King, Walker, & Broyles, 1996;Vartanian et al., 2018), may be more advantageous in the fields of arts/humanities and social science. However, few studies investigated moderation of the relation between personality traits and academic achievement by academic field (Vedel & Poropat, 2020) and these studies have yielded mixed results. ...
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In the present study it is investigated whether students enrolled in different academic fields of study have differing personality traits (i.e., conscientiousness and openness) and whether the relationship between these traits and academic achievement differs by academic field. Using Structural Equation Modeling on data from a large sample of university students, this study examined to what extent students' levels of conscientiousness and openness differ by academic field and whether these personality traits have differential predictive value for academic achievement for students in different academic fields. We found that students who are more open to experience and less conscientious are more likely to enroll in a program in the academic field of arts/humanities than in another field. There were no differences in the predictive value of these personality traits for academic achievement by academic field when controlling for prior performance in high school. These findings emphasize the general effectiveness of conscientiousness in explaining academic achievement and also call for the consideration of academic fields or college majors in personality research. Besides having theoretical implications, these findings have practical implications for higher education.
... Previous studies have indicated that the Big Five dimensions are associated with academic performance (Koschmieder et al., 2018;Poropat, 2009;Richardson et al., 2012;Trapmann et al., 2007;Vedel & Poropat, 2017) and career success (De Haro et al., 2020;Judge et al., 2002;Ng et al., 2005;Ng & Feldman, 2014;Seibert & Kraimer, 2001;Semeijn et al., 2020). Conscientiousness plays a major role for academic achievement (McAbee & Oswald, 2013;Poropat, 2009;Richardson et al., 2012;Trapmann et al., 2007;Vedel & Poropat, 2017). ...
... Previous studies have indicated that the Big Five dimensions are associated with academic performance (Koschmieder et al., 2018;Poropat, 2009;Richardson et al., 2012;Trapmann et al., 2007;Vedel & Poropat, 2017) and career success (De Haro et al., 2020;Judge et al., 2002;Ng et al., 2005;Ng & Feldman, 2014;Seibert & Kraimer, 2001;Semeijn et al., 2020). Conscientiousness plays a major role for academic achievement (McAbee & Oswald, 2013;Poropat, 2009;Richardson et al., 2012;Trapmann et al., 2007;Vedel & Poropat, 2017). Regarding career success, and especially in jobs that include interpersonal interaction, performance is positively related to the personality factors of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability (Mount et al., 1998). ...
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Person-Environment fit theories claim that students choose their academic path according to their personality. In this regard, teacher candidates are of special interest. On the one hand, they all make the same choice to enroll in a teacher education program. On the other hand, they make different choices with respect to the subjects they are going to teach. If the Person-Environment fit approach also applies to the selection regarding teacher candidates’ subject areas, teacher candidates from different majors might have different personality traits and as a result, different starting conditions for becoming a successful teacher. Such differences need to be taken into account by teacher education in order to create programs that allow teacher candidates from different majors to equally succeed. Therefore, the current study investigates to what extent personality group differences across majors occur within the population of teacher candidates. Using data from a large-scale study, the Big Five personality traits of 1735 female and 565 male teacher candidates were analyzed, with teacher candidates compared to male (n = 1122) and female (n = 1570) students who studied the same major but who did not intend to become teachers. Unlike previous studies, academic majors were not grouped into few broad categories, but eight different majors were distinguished. The results indicate that teacher candidates are more extraverted than their non-teaching counterparts. In addition, personality trait differences between teacher candidates from different majors could be observed. The results are discussed as they relate to the recruitment and training of future teachers.
... The relationship between personality and academic performance in general has received some support both theoretically and empirically (e.g., Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2003;Poropat, 2009;Vedel & Poropat, 2017). As reviewed in a meta-analysis (Poropat, 2009), personality could impact on academic performance through socially valued behaviors and an individual's willingness to perform academically, and through different learning and motivational mechanisms (e.g., conscientious learners perform better academically through sustained effort and goal setting, while extraversion contributes to academic success because of strong desire to learn and positive reframe of stress) (e.g., Jackson & Schneider, 2014). ...
... Agreeable students are more likely to be more compliant with teacher instructions, friendly, and cooperative with the learning process (Vedel & Poropat, 2017). Although the relationship between agreeableness and academic achievement in general has not been shown clearly due to the equivocal results (O'Connor & Paunonen, 2007), much L2 research has implied that agreeableness impacts L2 achievement through students having greater involvement in L2 interpersonal tasks with peers, having accommodating attitudes towards the L2 learning environment, and being more willing to interact with L2 community members. ...
Article
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Despite numerous studies involving personality traits and second language (L2) learning achievement over many years, there is a lack of an overall picture about how personality traits are related to L2 learning achievement. This study aims to conduct a systematic quantitative synthesis of the studies that examined the relationships between the Big Five personality traits and L2 learning achievement. A total of 137 correlation coefficients from 31 primary studies conducted in 24 countries, with a total cumulative sample size of 8853 and published between 1982 and 2020, were included in this synthesis. The findings showed that openness to experience (r = .23; 95% CI: .15, .30; p < .001), conscientiousness (r = .18; 95% CI: .08, .28; p = .002), extraversion (r = .12; 95% CI: .02, .21; p = .017), and agreeableness (r = .10; 95% CI: .01, .18; p = .025) had positive correlations with L2 learning achievement, while neuroticism (r = − .04; 95% CI: − .09, .02; p = .227) had a negative yet statistically non-significant correlation with L2 learning achievement. More specifically, openness to experience and conscientiousness were the stronger correlates with L2 learning achievement, followed by more moderate correlates of extraversion and agreeableness, while neuroticism was the weakest among the five. Furthermore, several study features (i.e., study region, age of participants, L1 and L2 similarities, and schooling levels) were shown to explain the variations in the relationships between the Big Five personality traits and L2 learning achievement across individual studies. Implications for L2 teaching and future research are discussed.
... Empirical evidence has demonstrated that conscientiousness is the most robust and most consistent Big Five personality trait for predicting achievement outcomes (mostly, grade point average (GPA) [20][21][22]. Likewise, dental education studies have provided similar evidence that conscientious dental students reach high academic and clinical performance [2][3][4]). ...
Article
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Methods: The study includes all fifth-year dental students registered at the College of Dentistry, Ajman University, in 2019/2020. One hundred and seventy students were invited to complete personality and performance measures using the Big Five Inventory (BFI) scale; the weighted grade point average (GPA) was used to assess students' academic performance. Results: Of the 170 participants, 60% were female and 40% were male. Participants ranged in age from twenty-four to twenty-seven years, with an average age of twenty-four years. There was a relationship between personality scores obtained for the students and their subsequent academic performance. The broad conscientiousness, competence, achievement, and dutifulness predicted academic and clinical success. The prediction accuracy of conscientiousness was improved by the inclusion of dutifulness, self-discipline, and deliberation. Conclusion: This study confirms that the students' personality profile is a substantial predictor of academic performance and likely to help select future intakes of students, although a prospective study would be required for a definite answer to this question.
... In line with the finding of De Fruyt and Mervielde (1996) and Busato et al. (2000), this study presents a negative correlation between openness and success in macroeconomics for both test methods (CR and MC). According to Vedel and Poropat (2017), openness is probably the most complicated and most debated factor to explain academic success. The factor includes intelligence, curiosity, creativity and artistic ability. ...
Article
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Investigated age differences in neuroticism, extraversion, and openness to experience using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study conducted by J. Cornoni-Huntley et al (1983). Cross-sectional analyses of data from 10,063 32–88 yr old Ss showed that older Ss were slightly lower in neuroticism, extraversion, and openness; that age trends were not curvilinear; and that there were no differences in personality scores that might be attributable to a mid-life crisis or transition. Comparison with data from 654 20–96 yr old Ss in the Augmented Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (ABLSA) showed that the ABLSA sample was lower in extraversion and higher in openness than the national sample, although the differences were small in magnitude. (22 ref)
Article
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Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) draws on forty years of research conducted by Jeffrey Gray, and now incorporates significant modifications introduced by Philip Corr, Alan Pickering, Neil McNaughton and others (see Corr 2004; McNaughton and Corr 2004). RST is now a highly visible feature of the panorama of models of human personality. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a critique of the theory, from a cognitive science standpoint. RST is an ambitious, multifaceted account of the biological bases of personality, comprising several ‘theories within a theory’. Table 17.1 discriminates the logically distinct facets of RST, whose validity may be separately evaluated, as follows. First, there is an epistemological facet. RST is based on animal models of emotion and motivation (McNaughton and Gray 2000); one may question whether such models are valid for understanding human personality. Secondly, there is a neurophysiological facet. RST sets out a ‘conceptual nervous system’ or a specification of discrete brain systems that influence personality. Figure 17.1 illustrates the three fundamental systems specified by the latest, modified version of RST (Corr 2004). The Fight-Flight-Freeze System (FFFS) mediates reactions to all aversive stimuli, including both conditioned and unconditioned stimuli. It relates to fear, but not anxiety. The behavioral activation system (BAS) mediates reactions to conditioned and unconditioned appetitive stimuli. In the current theory, the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) is activated by goal conflict, typically when the organism faces an approach-avoidance conflict associated with concurrent activation of the FFFS and BAS. Its activation corresponds to anxiety and worry, but not fear.
Article
We report the development of a self-report questionnaire of the reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) of personality for use with children. Focus groups were held with children to sample their experiences of situations modelled on components of three RST systems: fight-flight-freeze system (FFFS, related to fear), behavioural inhibition system (BIS, related to anxiety), and behavioural approach system (BAS, related to approach). The thematic responses formed the conceptual anchors to the development of test items that were examined using exploratory factor analysis in a sample of 288 9–13 year olds. After eliminating items that did not load on their designated factor, or substantially cross-loaded across factors, the original 48 items were reduced to 21 items: 7 items for each of the BIS, FFFS and BAS factors extracted from the data. The separation of the BIS and FFFS items across two factors is consistent with the revised model of RST. We offer this new questionnaire as a RST measure of fundamental motivation and emotion traits in children.
Article
During the past decades, a number of studies have explored personality group differences in the Big Five personality traits among students in different academic majors. To date, though, this research has not been reviewed systematically. This was the aim of the present review. A systematic literature search identified twelve eligible studies yielding an aggregated sample size of 13,389. Eleven studies reported significant group differences in one or multiple Big Five personality traits. Consistent findings across studies were that students of arts/humanities and psychology scored high on Neuroticism and Openness; students of political sc. scored high on Openness; students of economics, law, political sc., and medicine scored high on Extraversion; students of medicine, psychology, arts/humanities, and sciences scored high on Agreeableness; and students of arts/humanities scored low on Conscientiousness. Effect sizes were calculated to estimate the magnitude of the personality group differences. These effect sizes were consistent across studies comparing similar pairs of academic majors. For all Big Five personality traits medium effect sizes were found frequently, and for Openness even large effect sizes were found regularly. The results from the present review indicate that substantial personality group differences across academic majors exist. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Article
Personality–performance research typically uses samples of psychology students without questioning their representativeness. The present article reports two studies challenging this practice. Study 1: group differences in the Big Five personality traits were explored between students (N = 1067) in different academic majors (medicine, psychology, law, economics, political science, science, and arts/humanities), who were tested immediately after university enrolment. Study 2: six and a half years later the students’ academic records were obtained, and predictive validity of the Big Five personality traits and their subordinate facets was examined in the various academic majors in relation to Grade Point Average (GPA). Significant group differences in all Big Five personality traits were found between students in different academic majors. Also, variability in predictive validity of the Big Five personality traits and facets was found between different academic majors; R2 varied from .05 to .15 for the Big Five personality traits and from .16 to .57 for the Big Five facets. Complex patterns emerged; several Conscientiousness and Openness facets were good predictors of GPA in some majors, but not in others. The findings call for new directions in personality–performance research with broader sampling strategies and exploration of predictive validity of the Big Five facets.