People who are conscientious were more likely to have higher grade point averages compared to those who are not, according to a new study by Rice University psychologists. They examine previous studies that research the link between the "Big Five" personality traits -agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience - and college grade point average.
It found that across studies, higher levels of conscientiousness lead to higher college grade point averages. It also showed that five common personality tests are consistent in their evaluation of the "Big Five" personality traits; all five measures found a positive correlation between conscientiousness and grade point average and virtually no correlation between the other four personality traits and grade point average.
According to Sam McAbee, a psychology graduate student at Rice and the study's lead author, the study has important implications for college admission offices and employers, who use personality tests to measure an individual's capacity for success.
"Research on these personality tests helps us gain a better understanding of how various personality traits may affect academic outcomes and other important life outcomes," McAbee said.
"And although some researchers have questioned whether these personality measures might vary in their validity or effectiveness for predicting these outcomes, our analysis shows that all five measures produce similar results in the academic domain," he stated.
The researchers reviewed 51 previous studies (more than 26,000 total participants) published between 1992 and 2012 that investigated relationships between the "Big Five" personality traits and college grade point average.
All 51 studies used one of the five most common tests of personality - the NEO Personality Inventory, the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, the Big Five Inventory, Goldberg's Unipolar Big Five Factor Markers or the Big Five International Personality Item Pool - to measure the link between these personality traits and grade point average.
Both McAbee and Oswald hope the study will encourage further research of how personality impacts student success.
"Grade point average is just one of many factors that can predict student performance and long-term success," McAbee said.
"We hope our findings will encourage research that investigates how different personality traits impact important outcomes," he added.
The study appeared in the online edition of Psychological Assessment.