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Relationships of the Big Five Personality with Self-Esteem and Emotion Understanding in Students from Visual Arts High Schools and General Education High Schools


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The problem of the present study was defined as follows: What personality characteristics were predictors of emotion understanding and self-esteem in students of visual arts high schools and general education high schools. The problems discussed in this article have important implications for the effective functioning of artistically gifted youth in the school environment and for the optimization of their development in various areas of activity. Students of visual arts and general education high schools (N = 440) aged 15–18 (M = 16.88, SD = 0.81) in Poland were surveyed. The participants completed Costa and McCrae’s NEO-FFI, Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (SES), and Matczak and Jaworowska’s Emotion Understanding Test (TRE). Enter regression analysis was conducted. The results showed that in the group of visual arts high school students neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness were significant predictors of self-esteem, while neuroticism and openness to experience were predictors of emotion understanding. In the group of high school students who pursued a general edu- cation curriculum, self-esteem was statistically significantly predicted by neuroticism and conscientiousness. Significant predictors of emotion understanding in this group of students included neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness. These findings demonstrate that the students functioned differently in the school setting depending on the educational curriculum they were following. The results of the present study can be used to formulate practical educational guidelines.
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Małgorzata Kuśpit
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland
Anna Tychmanowicz
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland
Relationships of the Big Five Personality with
Self-Esteem and Emotion Understanding in Students
from Visual Arts High Schools and General Education
High Schools
e problem of the present study was defined as follows: What personality characteristics were
predictors of emotion understanding and self-esteem in students of visual arts high schools
and general education high schools. e problems discussed in this article have important
implications for the effective functioning of artistically gied youth in the school environment
and for the optimization of their development in various areas of activity. Students of visual
arts and general education high schools (N = 440) aged 15–18 (M = 16.88, SD = 0.81) in
Poland were surveyed. e participants completed Costa and McCrae’s NEO-FFI, Rosenberg’s
Self-Esteem Scale (SES), and Matczak and Jaworowska’s Emotion Understanding Test (TRE).
Enter regression analysis was conducted. e results showed that in the group of visual
arts high school students neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness were significant
predictors of self-esteem, while neuroticism and openness to experience were predictors of
Przegląd Badań Edukacyjnych
Educational Studies Review
ISSN 1895-4308
nr 36 (1/2022), s. 121–152 ORYGINALNE
emotion understanding. In the group of high school students who pursued ageneral edu-
cation curriculum, self-esteem was statistically significantly predicted by neuroticism and
conscientiousness. Significant predictors of emotion understanding in this group of students
included neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness. ese findings
demonstrate that the students functioned differently in the school setting depending on the
educational curriculum they were following. e results of the present study can be used to
formulate practical educational guidelines.
Keywords: visual arts schools, general education schools, Big Five personality traits, self-es-
teem, emotion understanding.
Visual arts abilities have been analyzed from apsychological and apedagogi-
cal perspective by numerous authors (Limont, 2005; Livingstone et al., 2011;
Chruszczewski, 2013; Khamatnurov et al., 2016). Some researchers rightly
claim that the analysis of those abilities should not be limited to the intellec-
tual dimension, as they “have amultifaceted personality-related and social
background, and are therefore subject to very diverse individual-specific
conditions (Popek, 2010, p. 84). Various scholars have also drawn attention to
the personality-related aspects of the development and formation of artistic
abilities (Feist, 1998; Furnham & Walker, 2001; Popek, 2010; Abuhamdeh
&Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).
Gied individuals are characterized by distinctive, yet oen contradictory,
personality characteristics. ese features include narcissism, low self-esteem,
megalomania, the ability to concentrate while being absent-minded, or eu-
phoria combined with pessimism (Schütz & DePaulo, 1996; Meneely &Por-
tillo, 2005). Moreover, gied young people typically display increased levels of
anxiety, insecurity, unconventionality, self-sufficiency, suspicion, and emotio-
nal sensitivity, low emotional resistance (Reddy, 2003; Sandgren, 2003), high
levels of schizothymia and independence, poor socialization, depressiveness,
and high tension (Sandgren, 2003; Abutalebi Ahmadi, 2013).
Still, gied and talented students are not given sufficient attention, and the
complexity and specificity of their functioning are oen overlooked. Gied
people are characterized by properties that allow them to achieve high out-
comes in their area of expertise. Contemporary research shows, however, that
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
individuals with above-average abilities and talents do not always use their
potential to the full, and experience numerous failures and disappointments
on their way to achieving goals. For this reason, the personality and emotio-
nality of gied people should be considered in interactive terms (Popek, 2001;
2010). Due to the complexity of abilities, they should be explored as part of
alarger system, taking into account their interactions with the social environ-
ment (Popek, 1996; 2001; 2010). Ahuge role in the process of developing
abilities is played by cognitive characteristics, personality, as well as emotions
and motivation (Kuśpit, 2013; 2015). e key to this development is also the
specific character of the school young people attend and their relationships
with teachers. Gied individuals are primarily treated as persons with special
needs and unique creative capacity (Limont & Cieślikowska, 2005). Research
shows that artistically gied students require greater attention and care as their
functioning, especially in the emotional and social spheres, differs from that
of the general population. During their development, they may be exposed
to various threats related to the sense of being misunderstood by others and
experiences of isolation, loneliness, and internal conflict (Tokarz, 2005). e
literature on artistic giedness is quite abundant (Anghel, 2016), but there are
few analyses that specifically concern the distinctive nature of artistic gied-
ness (Gątarska & Aksman, 2013). ere are also few definitions of this kind of
giedness (Gątarska & Aksman, 2013). ose that have been proposed so far
emphasize the importance of the skillful performance of activities related to
creating and reproducing works of visual art (Popek, 1988) and preferences
related to the reception, storage and processing of artistic material (Limont,
1992; 1998); they also relate artistic talent to esthetic sensitivity (Selaković,
2017), creative imagination (Šļahova et al., 2017), cognitive and affective
ability, specific interests, and motivation (Brandon, 2000; Zimmerman, 2004).
Bates and Munday (2005) count the following among the determinants of
artistic giedness: acuity of vision, above-average memory and attention
skills, good manual skills, high motor coordination, esthetic intelligence and
emotional sensitivity. e characteristics of artistically gied persons have also
been argued to include high self-awareness and self-sufficiency, originality
of thought and action, perseverance in pursuing goals, high self-awareness,
aspecific life attitude, and high aspirations which may lead to disappointment
and frustration (Popek, 2010; Gątarska & Aksman, 2013).
e instructional schedule in art schools is more demanding than in
general education schools, which is why artistically gied students may
experience stress caused by fatigue and the pressures of artistic evaluation
and creativity crisis (Olejniczak, 2013). Students of art schools take part in
exhibitions and competitions. It should be noted that the high expectations
and the pressure of being continuously assessed by the teacher lead to high
stress, which artistically gied students cannot cope with effectively due to
their high emotional sensitivity (Więckowska-Kowalska, 2017).
Most studies on the personality of artistically gied people have been
carried out with adult samples. ere is little research on the personality and
the personality predictors of psychological functioning of artistically gied
adolescents attending visual arts schools.
Personality in terms of the Big Five model
One of the most popular and culturally universal concepts and measures of
personality, also used in relation to the student population, is the Big Five
model. In recent decades, this model has been one of the most popular and
widely used personality models (Feher & Vernon, 2021), despite certain
controversies around some of its assumptions, for example the number of di-
mensions or the reduced role of cultural factors (McAdams, 1995; Oleś, 2000;
Mischel, 2004; Szarota, 2008; Zawadzki, 2008; DeYoung, 2010). Fundamental
importance in McCrae and Costa’ s theory is attributed to the notion of trait,
understood as adimension of individual differences and ageneralized dispo-
sition which has intellectual, emotional and behavioral manifestations. As
such, atrait does not determine behavior, since it depends on many factors.
Traits are relatively stable over time and characterize individuals to adifferent
extent (de Raad & Perugini, 2002; McCrae & Costa, 2005; DeYoung, 2010).
Traits allow both to describe individuals and to compare between them, as
they primarily regard common characteristics that are largely biologically
determined and condition an individuals functioning in various situations
(McAdams, 1995; Mischel, 2004; McCrae & Costa, 2008; Zawadzki, 2008;
Cieciuch & Łaguna, 2014). Research on traits using the Big Five model has
been carried out within two traditions: lexical and psychometric (question-
naire-based), and the results of analyses made within these two approaches
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
have allowed to formulate consistent conclusions (Zawadzki et al., 1998; Oleś,
2000; Cieciuch & Łaguna, 2014). Numerous analyses have shown that the Big
Five model is reliable and cross-culturally replicable (McCrae et al., 1998; Fe-
her & Vernon, 2021). e concept of the Big Five represents, in aconcise and
synthetic manner, five fundamental dimensions of personality: Extraversion,
Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to experience
(Zawadzki et al., 1998; Oleś, 2000; Zawadzki, 2008).
Extraversion is a dimension that describes social interactions both qu-
alitatively and quantitatively. It is related to the level of ones activity, the
need to seek stimulation and positive affect. Agreeableness refers to attitudes
towards others; Agreeable individuals tend to avoid conflicts and are trusting
and trustworthy, considerate and cooperative. Conscientiousness is related
to motivation, perseverance, and how well-organized aperson is striving to
achieve goals and perform tasks; it also describes one’s attitude to work and
encompasses competence, tendency to maintain order, diligence, striving for
achievement, self-discipline, and prudence. Neuroticism (or low Emotional
stability) is associated with alow degree of emotional adaptation, emotional
imbalance, and atendency to experience negative emotions such as embar-
rassment, fear, guilt, and anger, as well as susceptibility to stress. Openness to
experience refers to ones intellectual characteristics and includes imagination,
aesthetics, emotions, actions, ideas, and values. is trait is connected with
the tendency to seek new ideas, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, thinking out
of the box, creativity, atendency to challenge authority, interest in the outside
world, and exploring novelty (Costa & McCrae, 1989; de Raad & Perugini,
2002; McCrae & Costa, 2005; Komarraju et al., 2011).
Self-esteem is an evaluative component of the self-concept (Kulas, 1986;
Kumar, 2017). It has been defined in many ways (Heatherton & Wyland, 2003;
Abdel-Khalek, 2016). Some researchers view it as ageneralized appraisal
of the self (Dijksterhuis, 2004; Oleś & Drat-Ruszczak, 2008), which is the
outcome of one’s reflection on the degree to which one is recognized and
accepted by the people one considers important (Leary & Baumeister, 2000;
MacDonald et al., 2003).
James (1892/2002), the first researcher of self-esteem, defined it as asub-
jective feeling based on aratio of ones actual and potential successes (preten-
sions). He believed that self-esteem was associated with one’s aspirations as
related to one’s achievements, which led to acertain feeling towards oneself.
Self-esteem is higher when the discrepancy between one’s aspirations and the
effects of one’s actions is smaller (Robins et al., 2012; Szpitalak & Polczyk,
2015). Researchers pay attention to the importance of self-esteem in social
relations (Leary & Baumeister, 2000; Oleś & Drat-Ruszczak, 2008; Harris
&Orth, 2020) and emphasize the affective properties of self-esteem, noting
that it constitutes an emotional response to the self (Rosenberg et al., 1995;
Wang & Ollendick, 2001).
Another important researcher of self-esteem, Rosenberg (1989; Rosen-
berg et al., 1995), saw it as akind of attitude towards the self. He pointed out
that self-esteem was apositive or anegative attitude towards oneself which
involved aglobal evaluation of the self. People with high self-esteem value
themselves highly and believe in their own worth, which does not necessarily
mean they consider themselves better than others. By contrast, people with
low self-esteem are dissatisfied with themselves (Rosenberg, 1989; Rosenberg
et al, 1995). In this article, we adopt Rosenberg’s definition of self-esteem and
use his concept of self-esteem as the theoretical basis for our study.
Self-esteem plays acrucial role in human functioning. How one perceives
oneself determines the specific actions one takes, one’s social interactions
and the development of one’s personality characteristics (Kulas, 1986; Mruk,
2013). Undoubtedly, self-esteem plays aparticularly important role in edu-
cation and students’ functioning at school. Self-esteem is akey element of
self-confidence and the motivation that students need to engage in and carry
out learning tasks (Ferkany, 2008).
High self-esteem is apositive predictor of an individual’s success and
well-being (Orth & Robins, 2014). Low self-esteem is asignificant risk factor
for mental health problems, antisocial behavior and substance abuse (Robins
et al., 2012), which means that promotion of high self-esteem and prevention
of low self-esteem are important social goals (Robins et al., 2012; Orth & Ro-
bins, 2014), also in the context of educational provision. Low self-esteem may
result in low activity and low level of school achievement, as it is apredictor
of these latter variables (Lawrence, 2006; Freudenthaler et al., 2008).
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
Emotion understanding
e development of the ability to understand and analyze emotions and use
the knowledge associated with them depends on the social environment,
including the family and the school environments (Trentacosta & Fine, 2010;
Bariola et al., 2011). e ability to understand emotions is an important pre-
dictor of school success. Proper management of one’s own emotions supports
thinking and problem solving, also in educational situations (Mohoric & Tak-
sic, 2016). Aperson who understands emotions finds it easier to scrutinize
them from various points of view (Matczak & Knopp, 2013). e ability to
understand, analyze and properly express emotions is also key to interper-
sonal relationships with teachers and peers. Astudent who has the ability to
understand their own and other people’s emotions, can successfully cope with
social situations, harness their knowledge about emotions in acting and in
problem-solving, and adapt more easily to new situations. People with high
emotional abilities are able to concentrate on performing tasks and achieve
better academic performance (Goleman, 2001; Mohoric & Taksic, 2016). Re-
search indicates that students who have good emotion management skills are
more conscientious about their school responsibilities and less likely to play
truant, find it easier to transition from primary to high school (Petrides et
al., 2004), and have better grades and conduct in school (Qualter et al., 2007).
Difficulties in controlling one’s own emotional states, impatience, emotional
lability, and low levels of social skills can reduce students achievement (Ro-
eser et al., 2001; Tennant et al., 2015). e awareness of ones own emotions
and competences may not only facilitate the realization of one’s goals, but also
contribute to establishing satisfying interpersonal relations and overcoming
various kinds of difficulties (Roeser et al., 2001; Przybylska, 2008).
Characteristics of provision in art schools in Poland
Provision in art schools is quite unique as students learn general education
subjects, as well as acquiring knowledge in various fields of art and narrow
artistic specialties. Visual arts high schools, in addition to general education
courses, also teach subjects such as history of art, drawing and painting,
sculpture, fundamentals of photography and filmmaking, fundamentals of
design, multimedia design and specialty/specialization courses (MKiDN,
2016). Artistic provision in visual arts schools is associated with specific
difficulties: some of the most frequently encountered problems are related to
artistic evaluation and the “creativity crisis” (Olejniczak, 2013).e specific
character of education in visual arts schools is related to the fact that some
students have difficulty learning general subjects, which oen do not spark as
much interest as specialty subjects. In addition, participation in exhibitions,
open-air workshops, competitions and art classes is associated with severe
stress (Olejniczak et al., 2017). It turns out that students who apply to an art
school are oen gied individuals who, at the same time, display emotio-
nal immaturity and behavioral inadequacy (Więckowska-Kowalska, 2017).
Students of visual arts schools have akind of sensitivity that contributes to
the fact that they perceive the world in adifferent way than their peers from
general education schools. e educational provision system in art schools
allows to develop the students’ individual potential, their sensitivity and pre-
ferred working methods in order to ensure acceptance, understanding and
asense of security (Krygiel, 2014, p. 64).
Personality traits, self-esteem and emotion understanding
in visual arts school students
Research on artistically gied adolescents carried out using the concept of
the Big Five personality traits is scarce in the literature of the subject. Exi-
sting reports demonstrate that artistically gied students are characterized
by ahigher openness to experience than students from general education
schools (Iskra, 1998; Gelade, 2002; Batey et al., 2010; Ozga, 2018), and that the
dimension of openness to experience itself is positively correlated with creati-
vity (Furnham & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2010; Chmielińska, 2013). Moreover,
artistically gied individuals display ahigher level of extraversion than their
science-prone peers (Per & Beyoglu, 2011; Nogaj, 2018).
ere are also few studies so far on the understanding of emotions in
artistically gied people. e results of astudy conducted by Kuśpit (2017)
indicate that aperson’s creative attitude correlates positively with their
ability to understand emotions. Ahigh level of emotion understanding in
artistically gied students is accompanied by both nonconformity and
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
heuristic behaviors. Conversely, reproductive attitude, nonconformity and
algorithmic behaviors correlate with alow level of emotion understanding.
Przybylska (2007) obtained similar results in her study of the relationship
between creative attitude and emotional intelligence. Also, social skills,
including the ability to cope in situations of social exposure, and assertive-
ness, have been observed to positively correlate with creative attitude (Ku-
More literature can be found on the self-esteem of artistically gied indi-
viduals. Previous analyses in this area point to the importance of self-image,
self-awareness (primarily in relation to one’s own creative potential), self-
-commitment, self-acceptance, and self-efficacy in artistically gied people
(Pufal-Struzik, 2015; Łopuszańska, 2016). e results of astudy by Pufal-
-Struzik (2015) show that artistically gied adolescents have significantly hi-
gher levels of personal and reflective self-awareness than adolescents without
artistic ability. Other studies confirm the existence of this type of relationship
(Davis, 1992; Howard-Hamilton & Franks, 1995). Moreover, artistically gied
young people have been found to display lower global self-esteem compared
to students attending general education schools (Pufal-Struzik, 2015). is is
consistent with the position taken by Popek (2010), who believes that visual
artists may be characterized by low self-esteem even if they exhibit narcissi-
stic traits or Machiavellian attitude (Łopuszańska, 2016).
e cited findings provided abasis for the programmed research repor-
ted in this paper, the goal of which was to verify the model of relationships
among the analyzed variables, as proposed in Figure 1.
As already mentioned, the conception adopted in this paper views perso-
nality traits as endogenous and relatively constant characteristics that become
manifest in diverse areas of human functioning and complex emotional and
social situations (Oleś, 2000; Mischel, 2004; McCrae & Costa, 2008; Zawadzki,
2008; Cieciuch, & Łaguna, 2014). For this reason, they may determine other
human properties, such as self-esteem and the understanding of emotions.
e model we propose represents this direction of the dependency between
the investigated variables. e cited findings led us to expect that the patterns
of the relationships included in the model would be different for students
from visual arts schools and those from general education schools.
Purpose of current study
In light of the considerations, the analysis of subjective factors, such as
artistically gied students’ personality traits, self-esteem and ability to un-
derstand emotions, is an important task from the perspective of instruction
and education.
e problem of the present study was defined as follows: “What personality
characteristics were predictors of emotion understanding and self-esteem in
students of visual arts high schools and general education high schools?”.
We hypothesized that art school students’ self-esteem would be significan-
tly positively predicted by low neuroticism and low agreeableness as well as
high conscientiousness, high openness to experience and high extraversion.
Moreover, we hypothesized that understanding of emotions in the group of
art school students would be positively predicted by low neuroticism and
Figure. 1. Model of relationships of personality traits with self-esteem and
emotion understanding in visual arts high school students and general
education high school students
Source: Authors’ model.
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
high levels of the other Big Five personality traits: extraversion, conscientio-
usness, openness to experience, and agreeableness.
We also expected similar relationships to hold in the group of students
from general education schools; at the same time, we supposed that there
would be differences in the strength of prediction between the two groups of
students. We supposed that neuroticism and openness to experience would be
stronger predictors of self-esteem and emotion understanding in the group
of visual arts school students, as they had been reported to characterize this
group of students in previous research (Feist, 1998; Furnham & Walker, 2001;
Kaufman, 2013; Abuhamdeh & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).
e study included students of visual arts high schools (n = 262, including
225 women and 37 men) aged 15–18 (M = 17.02, SD = 0.79) and students of
general education schools (n = 178, including 95 women and 83 men), also
aged 15–18 (M = 16.74, SD = 0.83) in Poland.
Eligibility measures
Personality traits
e Polish adaptation of the NEO-FFI (Costa & McCrae, 1989) by Za-
wadzki, Strelau, Szczepaniak and Śliwińska (1998). e inventory contains
60 items, 12 for each of the five scales: Neuroticism (N), Extraversion (E),
Openness to experience (O), Agreeableness (A) and Conscientiousness(C).
e respondent rates the items on afive-point scale, from 1 – strongly
disagree to 5 – strongly agree. Cronbachs alpha reliability coefficients for
the individual scales are as follows: Neuroticism α = 0.80, Extraversion
α = 0.77, Conscientiousness α = 0.82, Openness to experience and Agreeableness
α = 0.68 (Zawadzki et al., 1998).
Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (SES)
Self-esteem was measured using the Polish translation of Rosenberg’s SES
(1989) by Dzwonkowska, Lachowicz-Tabaczek and Łaguna (2008). e SES
is used to measure global and conscious self-esteem, which is apermanent
attitude towards the self. is instrument consists of 10 items. e items are
answered using ascale from 1 (strongly agree) to 4 (strongly disagree). e
reliability of the scale estimated using the Cronbachs alpha coefficient ranges
from α = 0.81 to α = 0.83 (Dzwonkowska et al., 2008).
Emotion understanding
Emotion Understanding Test (TRE)
TRE is aPolish instrument developed by Matczak and Piekarska (2011). TRE
measures the following components of knowledge about emotions: knowledge
of emotion words, knowledge of relationships between emotions, knowledge
about changes occurring when emotions intensify, and knowledge of sources
of emotions which may be related to situational factors as well as aperson’s
internal properties and states and which have amodifying effect on external
factors (Matczak & Piekarska, 2011). TRE consists of 30 closed-ended tasks
that are grouped into five parts. ese tasks are scored on ascale from 0 to
1 – the maximum score is 30 points. e test allows to determine the overall
level of emotion understanding. e reliability coefficients of the TRE exceed
α = 0.80 (Matczak & Piekarska, 2011).
As the first step in the study procedure, we obtained the approval of the
director of the governmental Center for Artistic Education. en consent
was obtained from the heads of the visual arts high schools and general
education high schools taking part in the study, as well as from students and
their parents. Participation in the study was anonymous and voluntary. e
sample of students from visual arts and general education high schools was
selected using intentional–random sampling. We intentionally chose schools
of aspecific type (visual arts schools and general education schools) which
provided the desired number of participants, whereas students in each type
of school were selected randomly.
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
Testing and statistical analysis procedures
e survey was conducted in the years 2019–2020, in visual arts high schools
and general education high schools throughout Poland. e sample was se-
lected using intentional–random sampling. e results were analyzed statisti-
cally using Statistica 9.1 soware. e quantitative variables were presented as
means with standard deviation, and the qualitative variables were expressed
as numbers and percentages. Linear relationships between the variables were
determined using Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r). e associations of
personality traits with self-esteem and emotion understanding were explored
using enter regression analysis. Differences and relationships were considered
statistically significant at p < 0.05.
e descriptive statistics of the sample with regard to the investigated varia-
bles are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the variables personality traits, emotion understanding and
self-esteem in the sample of high school students
Visual arts school students General education students
Neuroticism 28.70 8.86 24.08 8.98
Extraversion 25.85 7.96 26.54 6.51
Openness to experience 29.83 6.26 26.17 6.36
Agreeableness 26.92 6.70 26.12 6.12
Conscientiousness 26.74 7.45 27.16 7.13
Emotion understanding 17.30 3.69 17.15 3.64
Self-esteem 25.12 5.17 27.31 5.26
Source: Authors’ research.
e next table shows the results of the analysis of correlations of personality
traits with emotion understanding and self-esteem in both study groups.
Table 2. Results of the analysis of correlations of personality traits with emotion understanding
and self-esteem in the groups of artistically gifted and general education high school students
Visual arts school students General education students
understanding Self-esteem Emotion
understanding Self-esteem
Neuroticism r -0.134 -0.647 -0.060 -0.701
p0.030 < 0.001 0.424 < 0.001
Extraversion r 0.057 0.412 -0.062 0.416
p 0.362 < 0.001 0.411 < 0.001
Openness to
r0.190 0.103 0.357 0.030
p0.002 0.096 < 0.001 0.692
Agreeableness r -0.032 0.119 0.215 0.159
p 0.610 0.054 0.004 0.034
r -0.040 0.288 -0.058 0.442
p 0.519 < 0.001 0.441 < 0.001
Source: Authors’ research.
Finally, we performed regression analyses of the predictors of self-esteem
of students from visual arts and general education schools. e results are
shown in the tables 3–6.
Regression analysis for SES, predictors: NEO-FFI
Table 3. Personality traits and self-esteem of visual arts school students. Results of regression
Personality factors
Adjusted R2 = 0.490 F(5,256) = 51.154 p < 0.001 f2
Cohen = 1.00
BΒ t p
Neuroticism −0.324 −0.555 −11.727 < 0.001
Extraversion 0.154 0.237 5.065 < 0.001
Openness to experience 0.069 0.083 1.849 0.066
Agreeableness −0.034 −0.045 −0.952 0.342
Conscientiousness 0.095 0.137 2.927 0.004
Source: Authors’ research.
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
e figures in Table 3 show that the model was well-fitted to the data F
(5,256) = 51.154; p < 0.001 and allowed to explain 49% of the variance in the
visual arts school students’ self-esteem. Statistically significant predictors of
the variable of self-esteem in this group included neuroticism (negative re-
lationships), as well as extraversion and conscientiousness (positive relation-
ships), with neuroticism being the strongest predictor (p < 0.001), followed by
extraversion (p < 0.001) and conscientiousness (p = 0.004). High extraversion
and conscientiousness and low neuroticism promoted high self-esteem in
visual arts high school students.
Table 4. Personality traits and self-esteem of students from general education schools. Results
of regression analysis
Personality factors
Adjusted R2 = 0.515 F(5,172) = 38.659 p < 0.001 f2
Cohen = 1.12
BΒ t p
Neuroticism −0.364 −0.621 −10.116 < 0.001
Extraversion 0.024 0.030 0.435 0.664
Openness to experience 0.054 0.065 1.231 0.220
Agreeableness −0.013 −0.015 −0.265 0.791
Conscientiousness 0.137 0.186 3.003 0.003
Source: Authors’ research.
As shown in Table 4, the model fit the data well F (5,172) = 38.659
p<0.001 and allowed to explain 51.5% of the variance in the self-esteem of
students from general education schools. Statistically significant predictors of
self-esteem in this group included neuroticism (negative relationships) and
conscientiousness (positive relationships), with neuroticism being astronger
predictor (p < 0.001) than conscientiousness (p = 0.003).
e next analyses concerned personality predictors of emotion un-
derstanding in both groups of students. Table 5 shows the results of these
analyses for visual arts school students.
Regression analysis for TRE, predictors: NEO-FFI
Table 5. Personality traits and emotion understanding of visual arts school students. Results of
regression analysis
Personality factors
Emotion understanding
Adjusted R2 = 0.045 F(5,256) = 3.440 p = 0.005 f2
Cohen = 0.07
BΒ t p
Neuroticism −0.064 −0.153 −2.366 0.019
Extraversion 0.008 0.018 0.281 0.779
Openness to experience 0.116 0.196 3.195 0.002
Agreeableness −0.009 −0.017 −0.259 0.796
Conscientiousness −0.044 −0.088 −1.377 0.170
Source: Authors’ research.
e figures in Table 5 show that the model fit the data well F (5,256) =
38.659 p < 0.001; it allowed to explain only 4.5% of the variance in emotion
understanding in the group of visual arts school students. In this group
of students, statistically significant predictors of emotion understanding
included neuroticism (negative relationships) and openness to experience
(positive relationships). Openness to experience was the stronger predictor
of emotion understanding (p = 0.002), and neuroticism was the weaker pre-
dictor (p = 0.019).
e Table 6 shows the results of regression analysis for the students from
general education schools.
Table 6. Personality traits and emotion understanding in students from general education
schools. Results of regression analysis
Personality factors
Emotion understanding
Adjusted R2 = 0.191 F(5,172) = 9.374 p < 0.001 f2
Cohen = 0.27
BΒ t p
Neuroticism −0.079 −0.194 −2.447 0.015
Extraversion −0.128 −0.228 −2.608 0.010
Openness to experience 0.203 0.354 5.163 < 0.001
Agreeableness 0.154 0.258 3.447 0.001
Conscientiousness −0.056 −0.109 −1.360 0.176
Source: Authors’ research.
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
e statistics in Table 6 show that the model was well-fitted to the data
F (5,172) = 9.374, p < 0.001 and allowed to explain 19.1% of the variance in
emotional understanding in the group of students from general education
schools. In this group of students, emotion understanding was statistically
significantly predicted by neuroticism (negative relationships), extraversion
(negative relationship), as well as openness to experience (positive relation-
ships) and agreeableness (positive relationships). e strongest predictor of
emotion understanding was openness to experience (p < 0.001), followed
by aslightly weaker predictor – agreeableness (p = 0.001), then extraversion
(p=0.010), and neuroticism (p = 0.015).
e aim of the present study was to determine whether and what personality
traits were predictors of self-esteem and emotion understanding in agroup
of students from visual arts and general education schools.
Personality traits and self-esteem in students from visual arts and general
education schools
Neuroticism was the strongest negative predictor of self-esteem in students
from both visual arts and general education schools: the higher the level of
neuroticism, the lower was the students’ self-esteem, which means that stu-
dents’ neuroticism lowered their self-esteem. Negative relationships between
neuroticism and self-esteem were also found in other studies (Watson et al.,
2002; Amirazodi & Amirazodi, 2011; Hufer-amm & Riemann, 2021). Neu-
roticism, as apersonality trait, is associated with proneness to anxiety, stress
and frustration, lack of self-confidence, and atendency to experience guilt
(Caspi et al., 2005; Amirazodi & Amirazodi, 2011), all of which may reduce
self-esteem. A high level of neuroticism is also associated with intellectual
apathy, understood as listlessness, alack of motivation to undertake intellec-
tual tasks and the tendency to see them as unattractive (Mayer et al., 1989;
Kossowska & Schounwenburg, 2000), which may have an adverse impact on
self-esteem. e high neuroticism scores in both groups of students may have
important implications for the formation of their self-esteem, which in turn
may contribute to the level of their school achievements and coping with the
difficulties and requirements posed by the education system. erefore, to
strengthen students’ self-esteem, it is worth using strategies that will contri-
bute to effective coping with anxiety, uncertainty and guilt.
In the present study, conscientiousness (in both study groups) and
extraversion (only in the group of visual arts school students) were also
significant predictors of self-esteem.
e results regarding the relationship of conscientiousness with sel-
f-esteem are consistent with previous findings showing that people with
high self-esteem are more conscientious (Pullmann & Allik, 2000; Robins
et al., 2001; Erol & Orth, 2011; Szpitalak & Polczyk, 2015), although some
other authors (Paszkowska-Rogacz & Poraj, 2017) have found no signifi-
cant associations between these two variables. Conscientiousness is viewed
as amodern counterpart of the trait of perseverance, which favors school
achievements (Kossowska & Schounwenburg, 2000), which, in turn, fosters
higher self-esteem (Baumeister et al., 2003).
Many studies indicate that there exist relationships between extraversion
and self-esteem (Robins, 2001; Watson et al., 2002; Schmitt & Allik, 2005;
Szpitalak & Polczyk, 2015), which are explained, among others, in terms of
positive affect, which is an important aspect of both these constructs (De-
Neve & Cooper, 1998; Robins et al., 2001; Amirazodi & Amirazodi, 2011).
e present results suggest that these associations apply only to students of
visual arts schools, as the predictive relationship between extraversion and
self-esteem turned out to be insignificant in the case of students from general
education schools. Perhaps, in the group of visual arts school students, self-
-esteem was largely built on relationships with other people. ose students
are also more oen subjected to evaluation (for example in competitions) and
more oen have to face situations of social exposure. Since they participate
in exhibitions and competitions, their self-esteem is more exposed to social
evaluation. In the group of students from general education schools, amore
important role was played by their individual work, personal educational
successes, and their adaptation to school requirements, which is easier for
students who are high on conscientiousness. In students from visual arts
schools, asignificant role in shaping self-esteem is played by interpersonal
relations, social exposure, and their participation in the school’s social life.
As regards this group of students then, it is worth paying attention to the
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
atmosphere in school and in class as well as mutual relationships between
students which, when good, may support the student in achieving his or her
individual successes. Failure to ensure proper interpersonal relationships may
indirectly lead to problems in this group of students, the more so that their
higher need for approval from others may increase the instability of their
self-esteem (Johnson, 1998). is observation corresponds with research on
school difficulties of visual arts school students. Perhaps, visual artists are
sensitive to other people’s evaluation of them, which contributes to building
their self-esteem and self-satisfaction, which, in turn, motivates them to be
active in the school space. e subjective sense of having achieved personal
success may not be sufficient motivation to undertake tasks and work towards
previously planned goals.
In this present study, the relationships between openness to experience
and agreeableness were not significant predictors of self-esteem in either of
the investigated groups of students. is can be explained by the fact that these
traits are less important to apersons self-perception (Szpitalak & Polczyk,
2015). It is worth noting that previous findings regarding the relationships
analyzed in this study are not unequivocal. Some results (Campbell & Fehr,
1990) show that self-esteem is negatively correlated with agreeableness, since
people with low self-esteem are uncertain about whether their judgments,
opinions and decisions are correct. Other analyses (Szpitalak & Polczyk, 2015)
demonstrate that self-esteem is not statistically significantly associated with
openness to experience and agreeableness, which is consistent with our results.
e findings reported in this paper support the claim that the Big Five
traits can significantly explain individual differences in self-esteem (Erol
&Orth, 2011), also in adolescents.
Personality traits and emotion understanding in students of visual arts
and general education schools
e results of the present analyses indicated that emotion understanding in
students from visual arts schools was significantly predicted by neuroticism
(negative predictor) and openness to experience (positive predictor). ese
predictive relationships were weaker than when self-esteem was used as the
explained variable. ey also explained alower percentage of variance in
emotion understanding than in the group of students from general education
schools. Moreover, in the latter group of students, apart from neuroticism
and openness to experience, extraversion and agreeableness were also signi-
ficant predictors of emotion understanding, i.e. emotion understanding was
significantly predicted by almost all dimensions of the Big Five, except for
It can then be assumed that understanding of emotions has amore co-
gnitive character: it is less dependent on personality and more on social tra-
ining (Kuśpit, 2018), which explains the positive relationship of this construct
with the trait of openness to experience in both studied groups. Openness to
experience is the intellectual dimension of the Big Five (Zawadzki et al., 1998;
McCrae & Sutin, 2009; Kaufman, 2013). People who are open to experience
seek new experiences, are intellectually curious, have broad mental horizons
and arich imagination and look for unconventional solutions and explana-
tions, which is conducive to the understanding of emotions.
In both groups of students, significant negative predictive relationships
were also observed between neuroticism and emotion understanding. is
observation is consistent with the findings of other researchers who showed
that neuroticism was negatively correlated with emotion regulation (Dynes,
2010), understood as awareness, understanding, and acceptance of emotions
and the ability to flexibly adjust appropriate emotion regulation strategies to
ones goals and the situational context (Gratz & Roemer, 2004). Students who
are able to control their own emotional states can give adirection to their
own behavior, which is important for their social functioning and achieving
the intended goals, which, in turn, contributes to their better functioning
in various social and educational situations, also in the educational space
(Kuśpit, 2018). e negative relationship between neuroticism and emotion
understanding can also be explained by the fact that lower neuroticism
is associated with lower sensitivity and lower concentration on one’s own
emotional states and the emotional states of other people. Individuals with
alower sensitivity have aweaker contact with emotions, analyze emotions
less deeply and attach less importance to them. is having been said, there
is still much room for further research in this area.
In the group of students from general education schools, emotion under-
standing was also significantly predicted by extraversion (negative predictor)
and agreeableness (positive predictor).
Małgorzata Kuśpit, Anna Tychmanowicz Relationships of the Big Five Personality
Extraversion is negatively associated with emotion understanding, becau-
se the lower ones level of extraversion (and the higher the introversion), the
more likely one is to focus on their emotional states and analyze emotions in
the situational context. Introverts are more inwardly oriented – they analyze
emotions, while extroverts are more outwardly oriented – they have more re-
lationships than introverts, but the bonds they make are more superficial, less
tight, and they are less involved in those relationships, which does not make
it easy for them to understand either their own or other people’s emotional
Agreeableness was quite astrong predictor of emotion understanding in
the group of students from general education schools. In the Big Five model,
this trait is understood as striving to avoid conflicts and apositive attitude to-
wards other people that involves trust and being considerate and cooperative.
ese properties are conducive to understanding emotions and building and
using knowledge about them and about their role in individuals behavior.
Our results indicated that personality characteristics were significant
predictors of the students’ ability to understand emotions, but the specific
nature of the investigated relationships differed between the groups.
Implications for educational practice
e results obtained in this study may be of use in channeling students
potential in the right direction and optimizing their development and social
Regardless of the type of school the students attended, neuroticism was
the strongest negative predictor of self-esteem. is finding shows that pro-
neness to anxiety, sensitivity, low resistance to difficult situations, and shyness
in interpersonal relationships play an important role in reducing apersons
self-esteem. When working with students from either type of school, it is
particularly worthwhile to use training techniques and methods that will
allow them to learn how to constructively cope with and minimize stress
and anxiety. Our results also indicate that teachers should use individualized
teaching methods that take into account students high emotional sensitivity
and proneness to anxiety, both of which may hinder their ability to cope in
the educational space. is is important since proper organization of school
institutions and the support they offer allows schools to socially increase
students’ self-esteem without compromising other high-priority goals, such
as providing an ambitious educational program (Ferkany, 2008).
Compared to students from visual arts schools, in the group of students
from general education schools, ahigher percentage of emotion understan-
ding was explained by personality traits. Without adoubt, it is important to
support students’ emotion understanding, especially in the case of students
from visual arts schools. It seems that this group of students perceive the
world through the prism of their interpersonal experiences rather than
through the prism of emotions. In both groups of students, the strongest
predictor of emotion understanding was openness to experience, which
can be supported and developed through training to facilitate and optimize
students’ emotional coping in the school setting.
Limitations and recommendations for further research
One limitation of the present study is that the sample included students from
only one type of specialty school – visual arts high schools. It would be justi-
fied to continue the investigations with other levels of education (for example
the academic level) and other specialties (for example music). Moreover, our
analyses focused on selected subjective characteristics: personality traits,
self-esteem and emotion understanding. In the light of the present results, in
future studies, it is worth considering other constructs, such as the internal
and external locus of control, achievement motivation and self-efficacy, all of
which may also play an important part in shaping students’ self-esteem and
emotion understanding.
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