Doing Life Together

ID-10087460These days, parents seemed consumed with their children getting high test scores. The belief is that high test scores predicts academic success. But a new study suggests that parents should put their efforts elsewhere–in developing the personalities of their children.

With more concern about what leads to academic success, researchers continue to look at a number of factors that might contribute to positive educational outcomes. We know that it helps to be smart when it comes to success in life. But what else could be important for success?

A new study by Dr. Arthur Poropat from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology found that personality may be a better measure of success than intelligence. He looked at what is called the “Big Five” personality traits–extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience, in college students and compared these traits to their test scores and grades. Two of those traits, conscientiousness and openness to experience had the biggest influence on academic success.

This means that students who are willing to put in focused effort in their studies may have an advantage over being smart, as measured by intellectual tests.  Interestingly, if you look at previous studies, students who think they are smart often have declining performance in college because they stop trying so hard. But hard workers try more and do better.

Since we can’t train intellect, but we can train personality, this study points to the idea that more attention should be focused on helping our students have intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic–two things we can train!

Personality, it appears, it not just an adjunct to intelligence, but a major player when we assess educational outcomes. Personality is associated with academic success. And of all the factors studied, Conscientiousness had the strongest association with academic success.

So parents, focus on teaching your children intellectual curiosity and strong work habits. Those two character traits will take them farther than intellect.







Source: Arthur E. Poropat. Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications. Learning and Individual Differences, 2014; 34: 24 DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2014.05.013

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