The importance of conscientiousness (again)
I’ve written several times in the last month about the important role conscientiousness plays in the creation of a social business. It’s probably fair to say however, that conscientiousness is not just a factor in social business, but in success in life generally.
Take the PISA test for instance. These tests are administered to children around the world to try and ascertain how successful children are at learning outside of the often politicized sphere of national testing regimes. As such, they’ve become a central plank of attempts by policy makers and educationalists to gauge the success, or otherwise, of their educational policies.
It has led officials from poorer performing nations to study and explore just what it is that makes students from countries such as Finland and South Korea perform so well. That these two countries take very different approaches to education only compounds the difficulty.
That didn’t deter researchers from the University of Pennsylvania however. They wanted to explore some of the motivational factors at play, whilst at the same time taking into account the cultural differences in what ‘motivated’ might look like.
Each PISA test comes accompanied by several surveys that aim to provide some context alongside the test results. They include things like family life and so on. The researchers focused in on these surveys to see if there were any trends emerging in how those surveys were filled out.
So, surveys from children from over 40 countries were analyzed to see how diligently they were completed, and whether this corresponded at all with their test scores. Firstly, it seems that the majority of kids were pretty good at filling out the surveys, despite there being little apparent need to do so. No country reported lower than 90% completion rates.
How the survey was answered however mattered, and it mattered a lot. It emerged that the thoroughness with which the surveys were completed was more predictive of that countries test scores than socio-economic status, class size or any other factor considered.
When the same analysis of subsequent PISA tests was undertaken, the same trend emerged. It should be said here, that the differences in conscientiousness were pretty small, with most being just a few percent, but those differences corresponded to a big difference in academic performance.
Conscientiousness therefore seems an underlying factor in pretty much any facet of life.Original post