What does your degree say about your personality?

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During the past decades, a number of studies have explored personality group differences in the Big Five personality traits among students in different academic majors. To date, though, this research has not been reviewed systematically. This was the aim of the present review. A systematic literature search identified twelve eligible studies yielding an aggregated sample size of 13,389. Eleven studies reported significant group differences in one or multiple Big Five personality traits. Consistent findings across studies were that students of arts/humanities and psychology scored high on Neuroticism and Openness; students of political sc. scored high on Openness; students of economics, law, political sc., and medicine scored high on Extraversion; students of medicine, psychology, arts/humanities, and sciences scored high on Agreeableness; and students of arts/humanities scored low on Conscientiousness. Effect sizes were calculated to estimate the magnitude of the personality group differences. These effect sizes were consistent across studies comparing similar pairs of academic majors. For all Big Five personality traits medium effect sizes were found frequently, and for Openness even large effect sizes were found regularly. The results from the present review indicate that substantial personality group differences across academic majors exist. Implications for research and practice are discussed.



  • Anna Vedel


  • Work & Career


  • Article