Whether individuals are finishing up high school or returning to academia after a long absence, they may want to take a personality test to get a sense of how they will perform academically in college. After all, recent research from Rice University found that those who are conscientious are more likely than their peers who do not possess this characteristic to achieve a high grade point average (GPA).
For their research, Rice psychologists looked at previous studies on the relationship between college GPA and the "Big Five" personality types, which are agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience.
Overall, the psychologists worked with data from 51 previous studies, which aggregated information on more than 26,000 participants. In each study, individuals were asked to complete personality tests that asked them to rate how much they agreed with statements about themselves. Their answers provided insight into which of the Big Five personality traits they possessed.
Based on all this research, the psychologists found that those who claimed to be more conscientious were performing better at school.
"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," said Sam McAbee, a graduate student of psychology at the University, as well as the study's lead author. "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."
Personality traits have not only been linked to students' grades, but their SAT scores as well. According to the findings of a 2007 University of California, Davis study, those who were more open achieved higher SAT verbal scores. The researchers behind this study also found a connection between conscientiousness and good grades.
With all this research available, it is possible that students, their teachers and college admissions officials could benefit. For example, students may be frustrated with how they are performing in the classroom and recognize that the problems lie in their personalities. At the same time, educators who are aware of their students' personalities can develop lessons that address their learning needs.
"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."