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The Effect of Personality Traits on Subject Choice and Performance in High School: Evidence from an English Cohort

Author

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  • Mendolia, Silvia

    () (University of Wollongong)

  • Walker, Ian

    () (Lancaster University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between personality traits in adolescence and performance in high school using a large and recent cohort study. In particular, we investigate the impact of locus of control, self-esteem and work ethics at age 15, on test scores at age 16, and on subject choices and subsequent performance at age 17-18. In particular, individuals with external locus of control or with low levels of self-esteem seem less likely to have good performance in test scores at age 16 and to pursue further studies at 17-18, especially in mathematics or sciences. We use matching methods to control for a rich set of adolescent and family characteristics and we find that personality traits do affect study choices and performance in test scores - particularly in mathematics and science. The results are stronger for adolescents from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. We establish the robustness of our results using the methodology proposed by Altonji et al. (2005) that consists in making hypotheses as to the correlation between the unobservables that determine test scores and subjects' choices and, the unobservables that influence personality.

Suggested Citation

  • Mendolia, Silvia & Walker, Ian, 2014. "The Effect of Personality Traits on Subject Choice and Performance in High School: Evidence from an English Cohort," IZA Discussion Papers 8269, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8269
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Personality traits and school performance
      by nawmsayn in ZeeConomics on 2014-08-18 00:30:31

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    Cited by:

    1. Mendolia, Silvia & Paloyo, Alfredo R. & Walker, Ian, 2018. "The Effect of Religiosity on Adolescent Risky Behaviors," IZA Discussion Papers 11566, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Deborah Cobb-Clark, 2015. "Locus of control and the labor market," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    3. Haile, Getinet & Bryson, Alex & White, Michael, 2015. "Spillover effects of unionisation on non-members' wellbeing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 108-122.
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:205-225 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Katharina Jaik & Stefan C. Wolter, 2016. "Lost in Transition: The Influence of Locus of Control on Delaying Educational Decisions," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0118, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    6. Giuseppe Migali & Eugenio Zucchelli, 2014. "The relationship between forgone health care and high school dropout," Working Papers 71679142, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    7. Silvia Mendolia & Alfredo R Paloyo & Ian Walker, 2018. "Heterogeneous effects of high school peers on educational outcomes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 613-634.
    8. Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe & Struewing, Cornelia, 2017. "Locus of control and performance appraisal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 205-225.
    9. Di Tommaso, Maria Laura & Mendolia, Silvia & Contini, Dalit, 2016. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics Achievement: Evidence from Italian Data," IZA Discussion Papers 10053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-esteem; locus of control; education; personality;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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