A Stable Relationship Between Personality and Academic Performance from Childhood through Adolescence: An original study and replication in hundred-thousand-person samples

Simon Calmar Andersen, Miriam Gensowski, Steven Ludeke, Oliver P. John

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Objective: Many studies have demonstrated that personality traits predict academic performance for students in high school and college. Much less evidence exists on whether the relationship between personality traits and academic performance changes from childhood to adolescence, and existing studies show very mixed findings. This study tests one hypothesis—that the importance of Agreeableness, Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness for academic performance changes fundamentally during school—against an alternative hypothesis suggesting that the changing relationships found in previous research are largely measurement artifacts.
Method: We used a nationwide sample of 135,389 primary and lower-secondary students from grade 4 to grade 8. We replicated all results in a separate sample of another 127,375 students.
Results: We found that academic performance was equally strongly related to our measure of Conscientiousness at all these grade levels, and the significance of Agreeableness and Emotional Stability predominantly reflected their connections with Conscientiousness. However, age also appeared to shape the relationship between Emotional Stability and performance.
Conclusion: Amidst the replication crisis in psychology these findings demonstrate a very stable and predictable relationship between personality traits and academic performance, which may have important implications for the education of children already in primary school.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality
Pages (from-to)925-939
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Big Five
  • education
  • personality
  • replicability

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