Conscientiousness Is the Most Powerful Noncognitive Predictor of School Achievement in Adolescents
Barbara Dumfart and Aljoscha C. Neubauer
Much research has demonstrated that intelligence and conscientiousness have a high impact on individual school achievement. To figure out if other noncognitive traits have incremental validity over intelligence and conscientiousness, we conducted a study on 498 eighth- grade students from general secondary schools in Austria. Hierarchical regressions for three criteria (GPA, science, and languages) were performed, including intelligence, the Big Five, self-discipline, grit, self-efficacy, intrinsic-extrinsic motivation, and test anxiety. Intelligence and conscientiousness alone accounted for approximately 40% in the variance of school achievement. For languages and GPA, no other personality and motivational predictors could explain additional variance; in science subjects, only self-discipline added incremental variance. We conclude that – in addition to intelligence as powerful cognitive predictor – conscientiousness is the crucial noncognitive predictor for school achievement and should be focused on when supporting students in improving their performance.