University education has a positive effect on people’s personalities, recent research finds.
People generally become more extraverted after completing higher education.
The personalities of students from poorer backgrounds benefit even more from attending university.
Along with increased extraversion, these students become more agreeable.
Extraversion and agreeableness are two of the five major aspects of personality.
The other three are openness to experience, neuroticism and conscientiousness.
The conclusions come from a study of 575 adolescents who were given personality tests and followed up 8 years later.
The authors think these changes in personality are down to university life, rather than the teaching.
Dr Sonja Kassenboehmer, the study’s first author, said:
“We see quite clearly that students’ personalities change when they go to university.
Universities provide an intensive new learning and social environment for adolescents, so it is not surprising that this experience could impact on students’ personality.
It is good news that universities not only seem to teach subject-specific skills, but also seem to succeed in shaping skills valued by employers and society.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Oxford Economic Papers (Kassenboehmer et al., 2018).