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Personality Psychology and Economics

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Author Info

  • Almlund, Mathilde

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Duckworth, Angela Lee

    ()
    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Heckman, James J.

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Kautz, Tim

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper explores the power of personality traits both as predictors and as causes of academic and economic success, health, and criminal activity. Measured personality is interpreted as a construct derived from an economic model of preferences, constraints, and information. Evidence is reviewed about the "situational specificity" of personality traits and preferences. An extreme version of the situationist view claims that there are no stable personality traits or preference parameters that persons carry across different situations. Those who hold this view claim that personality psychology has little relevance for economics. The biological and evolutionary origins of personality traits are explored. Personality measurement systems and relationships among the measures used by psychologists are examined. The predictive power of personality measures is compared with the predictive power of measures of cognition captured by IQ and achievement tests. For many outcomes, personality measures are just as predictive as cognitive measures, even after controlling for family background and cognition. Moreover, standard measures of cognition are heavily influenced by personality traits and incentives. Measured personality traits are positively correlated over the life cycle. However, they are not fixed and can be altered by experience and investment. Intervention studies, along with studies in biology and neuroscience, establish a causal basis for the observed effect of personality traits on economic and social outcomes. Personality traits are more malleable over the life cycle compared to cognition, which becomes highly rank stable around age 10. Interventions that change personality are promising avenues for addressing poverty and disadvantage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5500.

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Length: 254 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: E.A. Hanushek, S. Machin and S. Woessman (eds). Handbook of the Economics of Education, Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2011
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5500

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Related research

Keywords: economic success; wages; cognitive traits; behavioral economics; personality; human development; person-situation debate;

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References

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Personality matters
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-04-11 16:51:56
  2. Almlund, Duckworth, Heckman and Kautz IZA Paper: Personality Psychology and Economics
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-03-30 19:34:00
  3. Does personality matter?
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-04-17 13:10:22
  4. Papers on Personality and Economics
    by Liam Delaney in Economics and Psychology Research on 2012-04-18 10:30:00
  5. Journal session on personality and economics
    by Liam Delaney in Economics and Psychology Research on 2012-05-04 12:58:00
  6. Heraclitus vs Zimbardo
    by ? in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-09-03 14:46:00
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