University fosters an environment encouraging both academic achievements and personal developments. Each individual’s experience differs due to their choice of engagement in academic and social events. As academic events are still more important in an academic institution, achieving excellence in academics should be the priority for every student. The choice of participation and degree of academic involvement may depend upon an individual’s personality. Thus, the relationship between personality traits and an individual’s university academic achievement will be examined. To be more specific, extraversion will be the target personality trait in this study.
Extraversion is the independent variable in the study; it refers to an individual’s energy level and tendency to interact with others in a social setting (Costa & McCrae, 1992).In this study, the Big-Five Personality Inventory which defines human being’s personality traits through five dimensions was used (Goldberg & Rosolack, 1994). Extraverts tend to be social, talkative, and emotional. Introverts, on the other hand, are less emotional and more likely to stay alone (Costa & McCrae).
By reviewing the past studies, there seemed to be more than one explanation in explaining the relationship between the above independent and dependent variables. However, they were not conflicting with each other. A variety of factors has been taken into account to thoroughly examine the impact of extraversion on an individual’s academic achievement.
For example, in 1966, Estabrook and Sommer (1966) conducted an early and classic study. The results revealed that more extraverted students preferred to study in a leisure manner. For example, they liked to study in an informal space, such as on a bed or a couch. They also took frequent breaks and tended to study in a group setting, while the introverts enjoyed the contrasting habits and settings (Estabrook & Sommer). The results of the study revealed that the extraverts had a lower average compared to the introverts (Estabrook & Sommer). It also further demonstrated that an individual with a higher score in extraversion had worse study habits, which might have contributed to its less satisfactory academic performance in university.
A similar study was conducted on the same topic but with a third variable involved, peak activation time (Beaulieu, 1991). This study examined the relationship between an individual’s peak activation time, extraversion/introversion and academic achievement. Peak activation time is the time period in which, people tend to be more efficient in activities. Participants were a group of adults enrolled in a junior-level organizational behavior course. Along with their academic grades, a survey was also conducted to collect their extraversion score and sleeping habits. As a result, it was clear that extraverts tended to go to sleep late and had a peak activation time at night, while the introverts preferred to sleep earlier and had a peak activation time in the daytime (Beaulieu). Because most university courses are taken place in the day, the hypothesis predicted that introverts would do better than the extraverts given their daytime activation peak pattern. The result was consistent with the prediction – extraverts had poorer academic scores than the introverts. However, there were findings that extraverts paid less attention in academic activities, because they contributed more time engaging in social events given their social and energetic nature. Less attention might be paid to daily academic activities.
A recent study, conducted by Infant and Marin, investigated a sample of unsuccessful Spanish students focused on their personalities (2008). Here, unsuccessful students could be defined as students with low averages, high failing rates and potential to drop out. As discussed in the previous two studies, Infant and Marin predicted that individuals scoring high on extraversion would be likely to experience poorer academic performance given their ineffective study habits. Similarly, this study revealed that extraverts had a higher chance to experience neuroticism, lack of motivation, and low conscientiousness, they were more likely to result in academic failure in university and become pessimistic about their future. Thus, this result emphasizes upon the fact that an unsuccessful university students had a higher chance of being more extraverted. This study also illustrated a further relationship between the two variables – an extravert experienced poor academic results from their ineffective study habits, and these results could trigger the development of negative attitudes towards their future academic experiences in university.
A recent meta-analysis found that the extraversion and intelligence are negatively correlated . Although the result exemplified no relationship between the two variables, there might be a potential correlation.
Additionally, Morris and Carden (1981) examined the relationship between internal-external locus of control and extraversion-introversion. This study was conducted through gathering university undergraduate students’ data. The group assignments were based on survey results that differentiated the participants as external or internal locus of control and extraverts or introverts (Morris and Carden). These participants were then given out a test, and consequently their time spendt on the test and their overall grades were recorded (Morris and Carden). Later a feedback was written by the students about their feeling on their overall grades. The results demonstrated that the extraverts were impulsive (more satisfied or more unsatisfied in terms of emotion like happiness or sadness) even when their grades were not necessarily lower or higher than others (Morris and Carden). In combination with the external-internal analysis, it was clear that an extravert with external locus of control tended to do the poorest of the four groups (Morris and Carden). This model suggested that participants high on extraversion tended to be more emotional in problem solving or critical situations. In addition, if exhausted participants had external locus of control in dealing with problems, they had a higher chance of doing poorly. Conversely, an introvert with an internal locus of control was more emotionally stable and more likely to believe in his or her own abilities.
However, results were quite different when the students’ own perspectives and grades were taken into account in rating the degree of their own success. Irfani (1978) developed hypothesis stating that a students’ perspective on his or her academic performance would be influenced by their personality. It was tested through three different groups of participants assigned based on their personalities, extraversion, psychoticism and neuroticism (Irfani). These students were asked to answer a question that simply required their answer about whether they categorize themselves as successful or unsuccessful with respect to their academic performance (Irfani). Extraversion ratings seemed to affect the rating of academic success the most. A large number of extroverts in all three groups rated themselves as academically successful (Irfani) as they might have been more impulsive about their achievements. Thus the result supported the hypothesis to some degree. One could conclude from the result that an extrovert might view himself or herself as successful even when they are not. This conclusion also supported Morris and Carden’s (1981) research that idicated extroverts had the tendency to be more emotional in performing academic activities. Moreover, this research also demonstrated that an extrovert’s perception and satisfaction derived from academic performance may encourage them in continuing their study habits, and thus less likely to make improvements in the future due to constant inefficiency. This could be another reason why the extroverts have a higher chance of doing poorer than the introverts do academically.
In conclusion, students scoring high on the extraversion test may perform poorer than those who score low on extraversion. This result can be explained by a combination of factors. From the literature reviews collected on this topic, an extravert tends to be social, energetic, and easy-satisfied, which may contribute to their poor academic performance through their peak activation time at night and ineffective and lazy studying habits. In addition, extraverts’ high emotional levels may increase their tendency to be impulsive in reacting towards both successful and unsuccessful events. Thus, these factors together may make them less capable of handling university academic life successfully. Therefore, the hypothesized result is that students who score high on extraversion test will have less successful academic performance than those who score low on the test and vice versa.
In this study, the Big-Five personality test will be employed to measure the independent variable, and only the extraversion parts will be used to calculate the score. An extrovert will naturally receive a higher score on the test, while an introvert will get a lower result. The questionnaire and the scoring keys used in this study are attached in the Appendix B and C (John & Srivastava, 1999). Moreover, the dependent factor of this study is an individual’s academic achievement, which is measured by his or her cumulative average from first year. In order to maximize reliability of data and avoid skewness, only first-year students will be sampled since their courses are mostly compulsory.
The sample were composed of 36 undergraduate students from the University of Western Ontario (UWO), ranging from the age of 18 to 27 (M=20.64, SD=1.76). This group of participants was randomly selected at UWO’s University Community Centre (UCC) from 12:00 to 15:00 and from 21:00 to 23:00. In addition, researcher employed the method of convenience sampling in approaching participants and requesting for their cooperation and completion of the questionnaires. However, this sampling method did provide a perfect random selection, so the results might be confounded as students’ choices of going to the UCC in the selected periods may be highly dependent on their personalities. Thus the problem of generalization might appear in this study. For compensation, a more distributive sample was taken as the result of going for participant in large time gap. That is, going for individuals randomly, trying to avoid large group which would result in a similar personality and grade.
First, participants will be required to complete a Demographic Questionnaire (See Appendix A). This form contains items relevant to a student’s personal background, such as age, gender, ethnic background, birthplace, and average grade of each participant’s first year courses. First year average was selected as a measure of academic achievement. This was to reduce the external variable by limiting the course selection Most first year courses are compulsory. Therefore, there would be less freedom for participants to pick easy or challenging courses that may vary the average too much.
Then personalities of these participants was assessed through their completion of the Big-Five-Inventory (BFI) forms, which contain 44 items and eight extraversion items will be used in this study (John & Srivastava, 1999). For each item, a score of 1 to 5 was used as 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. The scoring key is provided in Appendix C for interpretation of items used. Also this study was completed by paper and pencil and within approximately 15 minutes. For this questionnaire, the extraversion part has a score of 40 being highest on extraversion and 8 being lowest on extraversion.
This survey was conducted on a one-to-one basis at the first floor of UCC. All participants was approached randomly. Although there was no time limit, it should be completed within 15 minutes.
Verbatim Instruction was given to participants as the researcher approaches them (see Appendix D). Followed by this, participants was given the Letter of Information and Consent (see Appendix E). Then they filled out the Demographic Questionnaire (see Appendix A), which contain the study’s first variable – their first year’s averages. Immediately upon completion of this form, participants was asked to read instructions on the BFI (John & Srivastava, 1999) form and rank all the necessary items. After this stage, data for the second variable, the extraversion score, was collected (see Appendix B).
Finally, Debriefing Form (see Appendix F) was given to the participants, while the researcher verbally asked if there are any questions or concerns. After being debriefed, all participants was thanked for their cooperation.
The means and standard deviations for two variables, the first year averages and the extraversion scores are shown in Table 1.
Descriptive Statistics for two variables involved in the research
Variable M SD
Extraversion Score 27.25926 4.40202
First Year Average 77.22222 6.680937
A bivariate correlational design was used in order to determine if extraversion and academic achievement were correlated significantly. An alpha of .05 was used.
The Pearson Product Moment coefficient was used in this research for the relationship between extraversion scores and first year averages. The results showed a relatively significant correlation between these two variables (r = -.48359, r2 = 0.23386, p < .05 Appendix G). This illustrates a negative relationship between these two variables.
Later, a regression analysis was conducted, the formula of the regression line was obtained ( y = -.73396x + 97.2294, Appendix H). Figure 1 shows the graph of this regression line
The Graph of the Regression Analysis
y = -.73396x + 97.2294
These results was able to provide a sufficient amount of evidence to support the hypothesis that extraversion is negatively related to academic achievement. That is, individuals scoring low on extraversion tend to perform better academically and vice versa. The summary data is shown in Appendix I.
This study hypothesized that students scoring low on extraversion scale tend to have high academic achievement. This hypothesis was based on previous studies that indicated that extraversion correlates with academic achievement negatively. This finding was illustrated in different ways.
For, example, Estabrook and Sommer’s (1966) study addressed this problem by explaining the basis of education, a student’s study habits. In this study, students scoring high on extraversion showed relatively poor behaviors comparing to what students scoring low on extraversion did. This finding may explain from the foundation why extraversion might correlate with academic achievement. That is, if a student does not study in an efficient way, the result may be poorer than that of those students with good study habits. This study demonstrated a possible explanation for this problem, but it did not address the reason why study habit is correlated with extraversion, nor did it give any cues about the directionality of this correlation.
In addition, there are other studies addressing this problem from different perspectives. Peak activation time was another point studied in this area. Beaulieu (1991) tried to examine the relationship students’ peak activation time and their extraversion scores. The results showed that students scoring high on extraversion might have a peak activation time at night. Relating back to author’s study, this finding may suggested that as most of the courses are taking in day time, students scoring high on extraversion may not do well in them because of their peak activation time.
Another study on this problem was conducted by Morris and Carden (1981). It provided another explanation on this problem. That is, students scoring high on extraversion may overestimate their academic results. For example, they may feel satisfied about their mark more easily than those students scoring low on extraversion scale may. Due to this, they may not try to compensate an academic failure about which they consider only as an occasion.
As what previous studies have predicted, this study generated a significant result that students scoring high on extraversion may do poorer in their academic field. The reasons for this result may be a combination of different reasons.
In university, students have to regulate themselves to adapt the pace of the courses they have taken. This is, developing a schedule that fits the university life. Academic results can be highly influenced by a student’s study habits. In this case, students scoring high on extraversion may not have a standard study habit for university life. Therefore, they may have some problems in different academic activities, like note-taking, reviewing, going to class regularly etc.
In addition, when they constantly receive their academic feedback, they may be emotional oriented to rationalize their failure as not so important to them. As the result, not much improvement can be obtained in it. Moreover, as they have rationalized their behaviors, they may not contribute the poor result to personal reasons. That is, they are less likely to change their study habits to improve their mark.
Another reason was related to the peak activation time. The students scoring high on extraversion have a peak activation time later in the day. This means, they may not perform their best during a common daytime course or exam. At the same time, as with a peak activation time at night, many social activities can draw their attention from their academic interests. For example, going to a club or bar is a very common leisure activity for university students. As so, an even worse condition may be produced for the next day as the result of over participating in a leisure activity at night. When the author was distributing the survey, he asked some general questions about the students’ nightlife after finishing the questionnaire. There was a general trend that whatever personality the students have, nowadays going to a club or a bar is a huge part in university life. Thus, although not included in this study, the topic about the relationship between the nightlife and academic achievement is worth studying on.
Another interesting finding was that a student who scored high on extraversion contributed the highest academic score. At the same time, the student who scored low on extraversion had the lowest academic score among all the participants. This may be due to the sample-size in the study. They can be viewed as outstanding results, not concluding any generality in the study. However, it can also be explained in terms of the limitation of this study. As this study merely generate a relationship between academic achievement and extraversion. The major of the students were not taken into account. Considering about different majors, different personality may fit differently. For example, a major involved many social tasks may be well fitted with extraversion personality. That is, as the students scoring high on extraversion are more sociable, they may be easier to communicate their opinions and participate in activities like presentation and election. This may need further analysis in order to rationalize the findings.
Another limitation is that the time was set only at noon in UCC. This setting was for both the convenience and availability of maximum participants. However, as mentioned above, students scoring high on extraversion may have a peak activation time at night; this may make them prefer more to night-class. In addition, many students may not come to UCC regularly regardless of their personality. Therefore, this study did not have an equal probability for its participant selection.
Furthermore, as considering about the setting of the questionnaire, the academic achievement section merely required one average for the students’ performance. This may rule out the differences in course difficulty and major module. It cannot generalize that each score obtained was based on a same standard. Thus, the study may fail to make a wide generalization on this topic.
In addition, although the first year average required was to minimize the difference in course selection, for the students from higher grades, it may be difficult to call back the precise marks. In this situation, as the author required, they may make up one mark from their false memory or remember it less accurately.
Overall, this study was to help on the understanding of study behaviors. The results from the study yielded a statistical significance. Extraversion was found to be negatively related to academic achievement. As there are several limitations in this study, further research should be taken to make a more generalize conclusion.