Perceptt~aland Motor Skills, 1975, 40, 1007-1010. @ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1975
SOME PERSONALITY CORRELATES
OF SELF-RATED ACADEMIC SUCCESS A. H.MEHRYAR Pahlaui University, Shiraz, Isan
H. HEKMAT University of Wisconsin, Steven's Poin,
F. KHAJAVI Harvard Medical School
Summary.-Using subjects' own ratings of their academic performance, a group of American university students were divided into academically successful ( n = 312) and unsuccessful ( n = 170) subgroups. A comparison of mean scores of the two groups on nine personality variables covered by Eysenck's PEN Inventory and Lilnyon's Psychological Screening Inventory showed that academic success, as rated by subjects themselves, is associated with low psychoticism, neuroticism, and discomfort but high extraversion and defensiveness. Recent years have seen a sharp increase i n the number of studies concerned with the non-cognitive correlates of academic performance. This is partly a reflection of the growing recognition of the importance of so-called "moderator variables" (Saunders, 1956) i n determining academic success as well as any other form of job performance and partly a result of the availability of theoretically attractive and easily administered inventories. In this respect, the factorially derived scales of extraversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability developed by Eysenck and Cattell have led to a spate of publications by British researchers. Recent reviews of the literature by Cattell and Butcher ( 1 9 6 8 ) , F. W. W a r burtonl, and Entwistle (1972) suggest that the relationship between academic performance and such personality dimensions as extraversion and neuroticism is far from simple, being moderated by such other variables as age, intellectual level, type of institution, and field of study. At the college and university level, however, the bulk of British studies seem to confirm the academic superiority of the introvert. Savage ( 1 9 6 2 ) and Lavin ( 1 9 6 7 ) have described a similar picture. T h e evidence for the relationship between neuroticism-stability and academic success is even less conclusive. While earlier British research (Eysenck, 1 9 7 2 l ) tended to support the significance of neuroticism for academic success, later work has shown the good student more often to be stable than neurotic (Entwistle, 1972). Similarly, Lavin's ( 1 9 6 7 ) review of American literature shows that, on balance, the academically successful student is more likely to be stable than neurotic. Mehryar, et al. ( 1 9 7 3 ) have reported a similar pattern for a group of Iranian university applicants. In view of these conflicting results, further replication of these studies with different groups and different measures of academic success and personality 'F. W. Warburton, The relationship between personality factors and scholastic attainment. (Unpublished report, Department of Education, Univer. of Manchester, 1968)
A. H. MEHRYAR, ET AL.
seems in order. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of Eysenck's three personality dimensions and a differently labelled and conceived American measure of the same dimensions with academic success for a group of American university students.
METHOD Subjects were 482 smdents, 184 male and 298 female, attending the University of Wisconsin. Steven's Point. Subjects were approached as members of general psychology and social science courses to participate in a research project o n certain aspects of personality. The test battery included (1) Eysenck and Eysenck's (1968) newly developed P E N Inventory. This is a 60-item factorially derived questionnaire designed to measure the three broad personality dimensions of Psychoticism. Extraversion and Neuroticism. This inventory was supplemented with an 18-item Lie-scale taken from the two forms of the Eysenck Personality Inventory (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1964). ( 2 ) Lanyon's ( 1 9 7 0 ) Psychological Screening Inventory, intended as a brief screening device, is a 130-item empirically derived test covering five aspects of personality: Alienation, Social Nonconformity, Discomfort, Expression, and Defensiveness. Despite the apparent differences in the titles of their scales, the two inventories cover more or less the same aspects of personaliry. A comparison of the contents of different scales suggests that Lanyon's scales, Alienation, Discomfort, and Expression, measure the personaliry dimensions labelled psychoticism, neuroticism, and extraversion in Eysenck's system. Similarly, Lanyon's Defensiveness scale is designed to perform the same function as the traditional Lie-scale included in the Eysenck's Personality Inventory and certain other tests. T h e only scale without an equivalent in Eysenck's test is the Social Nonconformity scale which is designed to tap antisocial and deviant tendencies. Even this scale is not entirely foreign to people who are familiar with Eysenck's ( 1 9 7 0 ) theory of crime. A factorial analysis of the present data (Mehryar, et al., 1974) has confirmed the basic similarity of Eysenck's and Lanyon's tests. Academic success was defined in terms of subject's response to the question: "Do you regard yourself as an academically successful student?". The criterion is admittedly crude and subjective. Yet, i n view of the more or less objective assessments of academic performance students have been exposed to for such a long period of their lives, a global judgment of their own academic standing is not likely to be off the point.
RESULTS Of the subjects, 170 or 35% had answered "No" to the criterion question. The percentages were 38.6% and 33.2% for male and female students, respectively. Means and standard deviations of the 9 test variables were separately calculated for subjects of each sex, who had said "Yes" and "No" to the criterion question. These are summarized in Table 1, from which it appears that, regardless of sex, students who have rated themselves as successful have scored differently from those who have rated themselves as unsuccessful on all the nine variables covered by the test battery. Only five of 9 differences are statistically significant (P L .05). Thus, academically unsuccessful students emerge as higher on Eysenck's Psychoticism and Neuroticism factors and on Lanyon's Discomfort and Social Nonconformity, but lower on Lanyon's Defensiveness scale.
CORRELATES OF SELF-RATED ACADEMIC SUCCESS
TABLE 1 MEANS AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF ACADEMICALLY SUCCESSFUL AND UNSUCCES~PUL STUDENTS ON N ~ N DIMENSIONS E Boys Success
( N = 113) M SD
Lie-scale Psychoticism Neuroticism Extraversion Alienation Soc. Nonconform. Discomfort Expression Defensiveness
2.6422.21 1.9021.85 9.1923.95 12.9623.94 4.93k2.48 8.8423.28 8.532 5.18 13.2225.79 9.542 3.71
Girls ( N = 71) M SD
2.4821.90 2.7322.37 10.4824.07 12.40k3.81 5.2222.79 10.2224.23 10.45k5.23 12.5225.43 8.592 3.60
2.6211.87 1.6221.80 10.1 124.00 13.03e3.74 5.2222.39 7.1423.39 9.8125.01 12.63&5.20 10.3123.40
Total Success No Success ( N = 170) (N= 312) M SD M SD Lie-scale 2.64k2.00 Psychoticism 1.7321.83 Neuroticism 9.78f 4.02 Extraversion 13.0023.82 Alienation 5.1222.43 Soc. Nonconform. 7.7623.45 Discomfort 9.35k5.12 Expression 12.85k3.54 Defensiveness 10.04k3.54 *P < .01; t p < ,001; total group.
2.4221.92 2.72e2.72 11.42-+3.83 12.37k3.69 5.57-+2.97 8.5524.08 11.27f 5.20 12.2625.09 8.952 3.34
2.4322.01 2.592 2.15 11.8923.66 12.1323.71 5.8822.99 7.2623.47 12.11C5.04 11.73&4.93 9.0123.44
1.14 5.08t 4.27t 1.72* 1.76 2.20 3.81t 1.13 3.20*
Thus, academic success, as judged by these subjects, seems mainly associated with freedom from the psychopathological traits and tendencies covered by the two inventories. The higher defensiveness and Lie scores of the successful group are also consistent with the negative relationship between Lie-scale and MMPI measures of psychopathology (Dahlstrom & Welsh, 1960). Mehryar, eb al. (1974) have also reported significantly higher Lie scores for their academically successful Iranian subjects. The results, on the whole, are consistent with other studies carried out in the United States (Lavin, 1967). The personality profiles of academically successful university students in the United States are different from those reported for their British counterparts. In this respect, they are more like the British secondary school students (Entwistle, 1972) and the Iranian university applicants, most of them fresh secondary school graduates (Mehryar, et al., 1973). Further research is needed to confirm and explain these cross-cultural differences in personality correlates of academic success.
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Accepted April 21, 1975.