Adrian Furnham and Helen Cheng
This study used a longitudinal data set of 5,672 adults followed for 50 years to determine the factors that influence adult trait Openness-to-Experience. In a large, nationally representative sample in the UK (the National Child Development Study), data were collected at birth, in childhood (age 11), adolescence (age 16), and adulthood (ages 33, 42, and 50) to examine the effects of family social background, childhood intelligence, school motivation during adolescence, education, and occupation on the personality trait Openness assessed at age 50 years. Structural equation modeling showed that parental social status, childhood intelligence, school motivation, education, and occupation all had modest, but direct, effects on trait Openness, among which childhood intelligence was the strongest predictor. Gender was not significantly associated with trait Openness. Limitations and implications of the study are discussed.