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The Relationship between Conscientiousness and Academic achievement

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 2691 words Published: 18th May 2020

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The Relationship between Conscientiousness and Academic achievement

Focus of this Personality Review

The Big Five personality traits examine the compound nature of personality, there has been numerous research within this field proving and supporting that the Big Five personality traits are a great predictor of individual’s potential outcomes (Mount & Barrick, 1998; Rosandra & Backstrom, 2016; Soloman & Jackson 2014). There has been a strong correlation of enhanced academic performance and greater satisfaction, improved wellbeing in individuals high in conscientiousness (Roberts, Kuncel, Shiner, Caspi & Goldberg, 2007). While conscientiousness can foresee many outcomes of one’s life, this personality evaluation will focus on the association between conscientiousness and academic achievement through the evaluation of a client, Abdulla. Abdulla’s evaluation will be extracted from multiple sources, multiple sources of personality surveys, such as, a finalised assessment of the Mini-IPIP6 that examines the HEXACO personality traits (ref). Furthermore, academic achievement is of extreme importance to Abdulla, as he is presently an undergraduate student on a scholarship from the UAE government in Australia who endeavours for academic success and does not want to let his government and family down.

Personality Data

Conscientiousness is one of the Big Five personality traits and it relates to individuals that are organised, healthy, pay attention to detail, self-disciplined and diligence (Sibley, Luyten, Purnnomo, Mobberley, Wotton, Hammond, Sengupta, Perry & Newman, 2011). These facets tend to correlate highly with that of a determined undergraduate. Therefore, academic success tends to share an association with conscientiousness. The association shared has been recognised in numerous studies (Fayard, Roberts, Robins & Watson, 2012; Wagerman & Funder, 2007)). One of the most effective methods to measure one’s conscientiousness levels is the mini-IPIP6 which examines the HEXACO traits. The HEXACO model is a development upon the Big Five personality traits, by adding another trait to the Big Five labelled honesty-humility (Ashton & Lee, 2005). Furthermore, through the examination of Abdulla’s S-data obtained from the mini-IPIP6, his scores revealed that he scored above average for the personality trait conscientiousness (X = 5.8, z = 0.289) in regards to the sample mean of 2016PSY university cohort (M = 4.67, SD =1.14; Griffith University, 2019). Nevertheless, through the evaluation of the population mean of the mini-IPIP6 (M = 5.10, SD = 1.07) by Ashton & Lee, 2005, 2007. Abdulla’s results (X= 5.8, z =0.07) revealed that he was above the average range in conscientiousness. While both results reveal similar explanations of Abdulla’s consciousness levels, the 2016PSY mini-IPIP6 offers a more precise interpretation due to the sample being more relevant, it was a sample of undergraduates enrolled in 2016PSY in Griffith University. However, when evaluating Abdulla’s S-Data concerning his results to compared to the population norms, it indicates that he ranges highly above average in conscientiousness. But when observing other data, he was also found to range highly above average in conscientiousness. Hence, B-Data has been collected from Abdulla’s academic transcript and his home environment, one limitation to the B-Data in which researchers have identified is that individuals tend to act differently based on the environment that they are found in (Funder, 2016). At university Abdulla tends to attend all his lectures and tutorials in order to effectively manage his exams and assessments on time, this is typical of an individual that scores high on conscientiousness. But, while home, Abdulla tries to uphold a persistence in his assessment, exams and chores but sometimes procrastinate, which shows low levels of conscientiousness (Watson, 2001). These claims are supported with the I-Data from his landlord which claim that Abdulla does not cause a mess and is always organised and never received a noise complaint. Being highly organised is a facet that is linked with conscientiousness individuals which leads to a higher GPA (Murphy, Miller, & Wrosch, 2013). I-Data from Abdulla’s family claims that he has always endeavoured for high academic achievement. However, Abdulla tends to suffer from the feeling of guilt when he does not reach his desired anticipation, this feeling of guilt is a limitation of highly conscientious individuals (Fayard, Roberts, Robins & Watson, 2012; Boyce, Wood, & Brown, 2010) On the other hand, L-Data reveals high conscientious behaviour, upon monitoring Abdulla’s spending, he tends to have a fixed grocery spending budget and only purchases organic groceries. Therefore, demonstrating a goal oriented and self-monitoring behaviour indicates high levels of conscientiousness (Soloman & Jackson 2014; Rosandra & Backstrom, 2016). 

Integration of Evidence

Upon Inspection of the mini-IPIP6 results, it labels Abdulla highly above average in conscientiousness, these results are coherent with the other sources of personality data. Numerous aspects of conscientiousness were addressed in the mini-IPIP6 for example “Get chores done right away” and “like order” which aimed to measure the fundamental aspects of conscientiousness such as, self-discipline, dutifulness and order (Costa & McCrae, 1995; Ashton & Lee, 2005). Hence, these kinds of questions do not accurately inspect the fundamental conscientious facets of achievement striving, this aspect seems to be disregarded in the mini-IPIP6. Further questions must be added to improve the accuracy of the current data that shed light on the aspects of achievement striving. However, adding further questions increases the chance of over-lapping with other traits which could lead to possible skewness as found by previous research (DeYoung, 2006). As Abdulla falls above average in conscientiousness, this carries both advantages and disadvantages regarding academic achievement. One of the major strength of the personality trait conscientiousness is self-discipline, people that score high on conscientiousness tend to be more goal oriented and organised (Caldwell and Burger 1998). This plays a crucial rule in the success of individuals in university, individuals who are high in conscientiousness tend to procrastinate less and focus on university tasks and assessments more which is associated with a higher GPA (Watson, 2001). Another major strength of conscientiousness is competence, individuals high on competence tend to pursue opportunities to enhance their efficiency at a given task (Heaven & Ciarrochi, 2008). Nonetheless, for every strength there is a weakness, although strengths exist in individuals high on conscientiousness so do weaknesses (Funder, 2016). A major weakness that tends to exist in high conscientious individuals is the receptiveness to guilt, due to individuals high in conscientiousness being achievement and goal focused, if they fail to reach their expected outcome they feel as if they have tragically failed (Fayard, Roberts, Robins, and Watson, 2012). When individuals take failure so profoundly and personally this could have a tragic effect on their academic performance and personal wellbeing (ref). This interconnects with another major disadvantage of conscientious individuals, which is individuals high in contentiousness tend to lack in popularity among their peers (Linden, Scholte, Cillessen, Nijenhuis, and Segers, 2010). Therefore, being unpopular among your peers may carry consequences and perhaps impact negatively upon group work settings in university. Conscientious individuals may be the hardest working among their peers, but they may find it challenging to portray and share their ideas with their peers, and might have a fixed mind-set (Robert and Cheung, 2010). The strengths and weaknesses clarified throughout this paper are consistent with Abdulla’s academic transcript, through the examination of a past group assignment for 3022PSY. Abdulla was assigned to a group presentation through his tutorial in university, moreover he did not share all his thoughts and viewpoints out of fear of guilt and was nervous if he shared the wrong idea or asked the wrong question. Unfortunately, he failed to establish the group norms with his peers, therefore, his peers did not contribute evenly to the group presentation leaving Abdulla completing majority of the group presentation by himself. The behaviour Abdulla demonstrated in the group presentation assessment correlates with highly conscientious individuals (Mount & Barrick, 1998). However, despite these limitations the literature has proven that conscientiousness is associated with academic success and individuals that score high on conscientiousness tend to perform better in university and last longer in educational institutions (Barrick and Mount, 1991; Wagerman and Funder, 2007; Caplan, 2003).


Although strengths and limitations exist in conscientiousness, several alterations can be made to improve the strengths and eradicate the limitations. As mentioned earlier Abdulla’s first strength is his ability to self-discipline. However, when Abdulla is home he tends to procrastinate, procrastination was found to be negatively correlated with academic achievement. Research on the topic procrastination proposes to counter procrastination an individual must distinct their study area from their recreational area (Hensley, 2013). Abdulla likes watching game of thrones while working on his assignments, in the future he will discrete those activities. Abdulla’s second strength was his goal oriented attitude that he possessed, which is essential for academic success. But, to guarantee that this strength will be enhanced, it is proposed to Abdulla to set realistic achievable goals to evade a larger chance of dissatisfaction and the feeling of guilt (Hancock, 2017). One of Abdulla’s weaknesses is susceptibility to guilt, studies advise individuals to evade the feeling of guilt when not reaching their desired anticipation and also advise on learning from one’s mistakes and set realistic goals in the future (Bowling, 2010). The weakness of Abdulla’s popularity in university can easily be alleviated, it is suggested that Abdulla socialises with other students through signing up for activities in the student guild centre, joining the university gym which increases his self-esteem and wellbeing, these recommendations are correlated with high academic achievement (Hendry, Hyde, & Davy, 2005). If Abdulla follows these proposals, he will gain a popularity among his peers, improve his GPA and achieve his dream of making her family and country proud.


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