Dr Rodica Damian, Professor Rong Su, Dr Michael J. Shanahan, Professor Ulrich Trautwein and Professor Brent W. Roberts
This research attempts to separate the impact of personality traits from intelligence, and examines the impact of character on pupils’ educational and life chances compared with the effect of their socio-economic background.
Analysing of data from Project Talent, a large-scale nationally representative longitudinal study that tracked US high school pupils until 11 years after graduation, the researchers evaluated the long-term impact of teenage personality traits on adult outcomes. Their analysis suggests that each of the personality traits has a statistically significant effect on outcomes.
The data suggested that, controlling for intelligence, character makes a difference to educational and career outcomes, independent of pupils’ background. If character could be taught in schools, the researchers argue, then this could have a positive effect on pupils’ educational attainment and career success, irrespective of their intelligence. This effect would be as significant for pupils from very disadvantaged backgrounds as it would be for their more advantaged peers.
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