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Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality?

Author

Listed:
  • Schurer, Stefanie

    () (University of Sydney)

  • Kassenboehmer, Sonja C.

    () (Monash University)

  • Leung, Felix

    (University of Sydney)

Abstract

We investigate whether universities select by, or also shape, their students' personality, as implied by the human capital investment model. Using a nationally representative sample of Australian adolescents followed over eight years, we find that youth conscientiousness, internal locus of control, and low extraversion strongly predict the probability of obtaining a university degree. However, university education does not shape those personality traits associated with a strong work ethic and intellect. Yet, it offsets a general decline in extraversion as individuals age and boosts the development of agreeableness for men from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our findings contribute to the discussion whether universities should teach their students broader skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Schurer, Stefanie & Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Leung, Felix, 2015. "Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality?," IZA Discussion Papers 8873, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8873
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2012. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 11-15.
    2. Montizaan, Raymond M. & Vendrik, Maarten C.M., 2014. "Misery Loves Company: Exogenous shocks in retirement expectations and social comparison effects on subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-26.
    3. Margo Coleman & Thomas DeLeire, 2003. "An Economic Model of Locus of Control and the Human Capital Investment Decision," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
    4. Anke Becker & Thomas Deckers & Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & Fabian Kosse, 2012. "The Relationship Between Economic Preferences and Psychological Personality Measures," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 453-478, July.
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    9. Deborah A. Cobb‐Clark & Stefanie Schurer, 2013. "Two Economists' Musings on the Stability of Locus of Control," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 358-400, August.
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    13. Andrew M. Jones & Nigel Rice & Pedro Rosa Dias, 2011. "Long-Term Effects of School Quality on Health and Lifestyle: Evidence from Comprehensive Schooling Reforms in England," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(3), pages 342-376.
    14. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2014. "Healthy habits: The connection between diet, exercise, and locus of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 1-28.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Mani, Subha & Sharma, Smriti & Singhal, Saurabh, 2017. "Cognitive, Socioemotional and Behavioral Returns to College Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 10701, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:eee:intell:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:117-127 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fletcher Jason M. & Schurer Stefanie, 2017. "Origins of Adulthood Personality: The Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 1-22, April.
    4. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2017:n:366 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    university education; Big-Five personality traits; psychic cost; inequality; change in personality;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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