Personality, Not Intelligence, Is Most Important For Success

If you think you did well in school simply because you were smarter than the rest of your classmates, you should probably think again. According to a new paper published in Learning and Individual Differences, your personality type is a way better predictor of success in school than your actual intelligence level.

Dr. Arthur Poropat from Griffith's School of Applied Psychology conducted reviews on the "big five" personality factors: conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and extraversion. He compared these measurements to standardized testing scores and found that those who were more conscientious and open tended to get better grades than those who were less open and conscientious.

"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," Poropat said, in a press release. "And a student with the most helpful personality will score a full grade higher than an average student in this regard."

Poropat also found that that a student's assessment of his or her own personality is just as effective as intelligence rankings in predicting academic success. But when another person who knows the student well rates his or her personality, it's nearly four times more accurate for predicting grades.

This is good news for students who don't necessarily feel like they were born with a natural knack for the major subjects. While there is little evidence that intelligence can be taught, Poropat said that it is possible to develop the personality traits linked with academic success — you just have to put in the effort.

In other words, you have control over how well you do in school. It's not whether or not you have the brains; it's whether or not you have the drive.

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