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Personality Traits May Predict Medical School Success

Extraversion, openness and conscientiousness predict higher grades and staying in school

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- During medical school, personality traits such as extraversion, openness and conscientiousness are increasingly predictive of academic success, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Filip Lievens, Ph.D., of Ghent University in Belgium, and colleagues assessed five personality dimensions, including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness, in Belgium's entire 1997 cohort of medical students, and followed the subjects for seven years.

Over time, the researchers found that measures of extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness were increasingly predictive of grade point averages. They also found that early attrition was associated with poor grades, low conscientiousness and high openness. In addition, later attrition was associated with lower conscientiousness as well as agreeableness.

"Virtually constant, negligible validities were found for neuroticism," the authors write. "Conscientiousness, perhaps more so than any other personality trait, is an increasing asset for medical students during their education."

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