Personality outsmarts intelligence at school

Melbourne: Personality is more important than intelligence when it comes to success in education, according to a new study which also identified the most important personality traits linked with academic success.

Dr Arthur Poropat from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology conducted the largest ever reviews of personality and academic performance.

He based these reviews on the fundamental personality factors (conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and extraversion) and found conscientiousness and openness have the biggest influence on academic success.

Poropat said educational institutions need to focus less upon intelligence and instead, pay more attention to each student’s personality.

“With respect to learning, personality is more useful than intelligence for guiding both students and teachers,” Poropat said.

“In practical terms, the amount of effort students are prepared to put in, and where that effort is focused, is at least as important as whether the students are smart.

“And a student with the most helpful personality will score a full grade higher than an average student in this regard,” he said.

Poropat found that a student’s assessment of their own personality is as useful for predicting university success as intelligence rankings.

However, when people who know the student well provide the personality rating, it is nearly four times more accurate for predicting grades.

Poropat said the best news for students is that it’s possible to develop the most important personality traits linked with academic success.

“Personality does change, and some educators have trained aspects of students’ conscientiousness and openness, leading to greater learning capacity,” Poropat said.

“By contrast, there is little evidence that intelligence can be ‘taught’, despite the popularity of brain-training apps,” he added.

The results were published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences.