Nav: Home

Study links responsible behavior in high school to life success 50 years later

February 26, 2018

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A new study links doing one's homework, being interested and behaving responsibly in high school to better academic and career success as many as 50 years later. This effect, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, holds true even after accounting for parental income, IQ and other factors known to influence achievement, researchers report.

"Yes, intelligence is important to life success and so is family socioeconomic status; we've known this for a while," said University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts, who conducted the study with Rodica Damian of the University of Houston and Marion Spengler of the University of Tuebingen. "Studies have shown that personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness also correspond to higher academic and career achievement. But these are traits you're more or less born with. We wanted to know if factors under the control of the individual at a young age might also play a role."

The study analyzed decades of data collected by the American Institutes for Research beginning in 1960 and continuing to the present. The original data set included more than 370,000 students. High school participants were originally tested on academic, cognitive and behavioral characteristics in 1960 and also responded to follow-up surveys in later years. The new analysis looked at the initial student tests and their responses 11 years and 50 years later.

Of the 1,952 participants randomly selected from those who responded to surveys 50 years later, "those who showed more interest in high school and had higher writing skills reported earning higher incomes," said Spengler, who led the study. "They also tended to have higher occupational prestige than their peers when they showed responsible behaviors as a student." This was in addition to the gains associated with IQ, family income and personality traits such as conscientiousness, she said.

Further analyses revealed that education was likely the factor mediating the relationship between high school behavior and later success in life.

"It seems that these early individual differences are relevant across the life span through the lens of education," the researchers wrote.

While the study kept track of participants over a period of 50 years, the methods used only point to an association between factors and outcomes and do not prove that good behavior in high school inevitably leads to career success later in life, Damian said.

"This study does, however, highlight the possibility that certain behaviors at crucial periods could have long-term consequences for a person's life," she said.
-end-
Editor's notes:

To reach Brent Roberts, email bwrobrts@illinois.edu.

To reach Rodica Damian, email ridamian@uh.edu.

To reach Marion Spengler, email marion.spengler@uni-tuebingen.de.

The paper "How you behave in school predicts life success above and beyond family background, broad traits, and cognitive ability" is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Personality Articles:

Your spending data may reveal aspects of your personality
How you spend your money can signal aspects of your personality, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The sun may have a dual personality, simulations suggest
A deep dive into the sun's interior provides new clues to the forces that govern that star's internal clock.
A personality test for ads
People leave digital footprints online, and this information could helps marketers personalize ads based on individual personality types.
Sex differences in personality traits in Asian elephants
Scientists from the University of Turku, Finland, have found that male and female Asian elephants differ in their personality.
Is our personality affected by the way we look? (Or the way we think we look?)
To what extent is our personality an adaptation to our appearance or even our physique?
Listeners get an idea of the personality of the speaker through his voice
A paper published by Cristina Baus and Albert Costa, UPF researchers at the Center for Cognition and Brain (CBC), in collaboration with researchers from the Université Aix-Marseille and the University of Glasgow, has shown that listeners across languages form very rapid personality impressions from the voice and this is not modulated by the language of the listener, native or foreign.
How a personality trait puts you at risk for cybercrime
Impulse online shopping, downloading music and compulsive email use are all signs of a certain personality trait that make you a target for malware attacks.
Self-perception and reality seem to line-up when it comes to judging our own personality
When it comes to personality, it turns out your peers probably think the same way about you as you do about yourself
Do you have a healthy personality? Researchers think they can tell you
Researchers from the University of California, Davis, have identified a healthy personality prototype in a recent study using a contemporary trait perspective.
When it comes to love: Personality matters: QUT research
Throughout history, competitive advantages have helped men and women achieve increased success in their occupation, sport, artistic endeavors, their ability to acquire and secure resources, and ultimately, their survival.
More Personality News and Personality Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.