The personal values and study skills can be better predictors of college success than personality traits.

Nisha Chaudhry, Natalia Omelchenko, Joseph Roxby, Joe Nolan


The Big Five Model of Personality has limited support in the field of neuroscience and challenged by low factor–criterion correlation (0.2-0.3, N=142). To overcome these limitations, we previously attempted to create an alternative model. For that model we choose the traits that were consistent with the modern ideas of brain organization and brain functioning. This model had five personality parameters 1) Fear tolerance, the ability to overcome fears and the resistance to developing them in the first place; 2) Impulse tolerance, the ability to resist immediate impulses to gratify desires or correct homeostatic imbalances; 3) Emotional tolerance, the ability to resist the effects of emotion in favor of rationality; 4) Traditional tendency, the measure of likelihood that either a traditional or novel option will hold more sway; and 5) Self-conception, the rewarding value we assign to projected outcomes. Here, we attempted to see if the new model can serve as a better predictor of behaviors, more specifically the college success. We developed a short questionnaire based on the traits proposed by the model (24 items total), asked anonymous participants attending freshman or senior classes to complete it, and evaluate the responses. We clearly recognized the piloting nature of the administrated questions and a potential impact on assessment of low inventory questionnaires, but it was immediately clear that the questions addressing personality traits had limited link to the seniority of the students. In contrast, responses of students of different seniority had been clearly dissociated every time when relevant to college success personal values and skills were evaluated (correlation 0.24-0.47, N=24, p<0.05).  Although more research is needed, the findings indicate that personal values and study skills are much better predictors of college success than personality traits.

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