Personality traits may affect performance in different jobs, study finds

Photo (c) Luis Alvarez - Getty Images

Consumers need to consider their personalities when thinking about their career paths

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Arkansas explored an interesting connection between consumers’ personalities and their job performance. They learned that workers’ dominant personality traits may predict their success in certain occupations. 

“Although past studies made statements about the effects of personality traits on job performance in general, the specifics of these relationships really depend on the job,” said researcher Michael Wilmot. “More interesting findings exist when we take a deeper look at performance within the different jobs.” 

What traits best align with different industries? 

For the study, the researchers analyzed 15 earlier studies that explored the Big Five personality traits – conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. They then looked at how those traits fared across nine industries – law enforcement, clerical, customer service, health care, military, professional, sales, and skilled. 

The researchers learned that workers’ success in certain roles could be predicted by their personality traits; however, the most important factor was the complexity associated with the occupations. The study also showed that certain characteristics are better suited to specific fields. For example, openness was associated with great success in professional occupations, whereas emotional stability was linked with better performance in law enforcement or the military. 

One trait was consistent across all of the fields: conscientiousness. Workers with high levels of conscientiousness are likely to perform well across the board, regardless of what field the job is in. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope these findings can be of use to both consumers on the job hunt and employers looking to fill roles. 

“These findings should prove useful for scholars pursuing a richer understanding of personality – performance relations and for organizations honing employee talent identification and selection systems,” Wilmot said. “They should also benefit individuals trying to choose the right vocation and, really, society-at-large, which would reap the collective benefits of better occupational performance.” 

Take a Financial Relief Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.