Can Your Academic Major Predict Your Personality Type?

It is well-settled that there are five personality traits: (1) neuroticism; (2) conscientiousness; (3) agreeableness; (4) extraversion; and (5) openness to experience. Each of us has a certain mix of these traits, which determines our overall personality.  For instance, it’s no surprise that those who skew towards conscientiousness have long dominated the curves at universities across the country, but depending on their levels of neuroticism, extraversion, etc., they may have had very few friends to tell about it. And until recently, mixes of these traits were thought to vary widely among academic majors.

However, a contrary hypothesis emerged when psychologists noticed that conscientiousness was a much stronger predictor of grades among psychology majors relative to other academic disciplines. Further exploration revealed that psychology and arts/humanities majors typically score high on openness and neuroticism (with arts/humanities folks scoring low on conscientiousness), whereas political science majors score high only on openness, law/medicine students score high on extraversion, and science majors score high on agreeableness. The statistically significant correlations were interpreted by the reviewing psychologists to suggest that certain majors attract certain personality types (as opposed to creating them through a process called “socialization”).

So in sum, there is a strong correlation between academic major and personality type. Although a mix of personality types certainly remains within majors, it may not be a bad idea to take a personality test before declaring your major.

 

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