Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Big Five personality group differences across academic majors: A systematic review

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During the past decades, a number of studies have explored personality group differences in the Big Five personality
traits among students in different academic majors. To date, though, this research has not been reviewed
systematically. This was the aim of the present review. A systematic literature search identified twelve eligible
studies yielding an aggregated sample size of 13,389. Eleven studies reported significant group differences in
one or multiple Big Five personality traits. Consistent findings across studies were that students of arts/humanities
and psychology scored high on Neuroticism and Openness; students of political sc. scored high on Openness;
students of economics, law, political sc., andmedicine scored high on Extraversion; students ofmedicine, psychology,
arts/humanities, and sciences scored high on Agreeableness; and students of arts/humanities scored low on
Conscientiousness. Effect sizes were calculated to estimate the magnitude of the personality group differences.
These effect sizes were consistent across studies comparing similar pairs of academic majors. For all Big Five personality
traits medium effect sizes were found frequently, and for Openness even large effect sizes were found
regularly. The results from the present review indicate that substantial personality group differences across academic
majors exist. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

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