Personality, cognitive ability and beliefs about intelligence as predictors of academic performance.
The relationship between the Big Five personality traits, cognitive ability, and beliefs about intelligence (BAI) was explored in a longitudinal study using a sample (N=93) of British university students. These three sets of variables were used to predict academic performance (AP) (i.e., examination grades) as well as seminar performance (i.e., behaviour in class, essay marks, and attendance record) aggregated over a 2-year period. Correlational analyses showed that personality (but not intelligence) was related to BAI (specifically entity vs. incremental beliefs): More conscientious participants were more likely to think that intelligence can be increased throughout the life span, whilst low conscientious individuals were more likely to believe that intelligence is stable. However, these beliefs were not themselves significantly related to AP; only personality traits (Conscientiousness positively, Extraversion negatively) and gender were significantly correlated with AP. Further, following a series of hierarchical regression, it was shown that the Big Five personality traits are better predictors of AP than cognitive ability, BAI, and gender. When seminar performance indicators were regressed onto these variables, a similar pattern was obtained: Personality was the most powerful predictor of absenteeism, essay marks, and behaviour in seminar classes (as rated by different tutors), with Conscientiousness being the most significant predictor. Implications for the prediction of academic success in university and the selection of student settings are discussed.