Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John W. Lounsbury

Committee Members

Eric Sundstrom, Richard Saudargas, Steve McCallum


Personality and cognitive variables were examined to determine relative validity in predicting academic performance. This study investigated whether broad personality variables (in this case, the Big Five: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience) predicted academic success better than narrow personality variables (the construct Work Drive); it also explored the utility of operationalizing academic performance via cumulative grade point average (GPA) versus a single course grade. The highest significant correlates of GPA and course grade were Work Drive (r=.42, p<.01; r=.29, p<.01) and general intelligence, the cognitive variable (r=.40, p<.01; r=.35, p<.01). Regression analysis revealed that Work Drive was the stronger predictor of GPA (17.9% unique variance as step 1, compared to general intelligence’s 15.7% unique variance as step 1); while general intelligence was found to be the stronger predictor of course grade (11.8% unique variance as step 1, compared to Work Drive’s 8.6% unique variance as step 1). Two Big Five variables, Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability, correlated significantly with GPA (r=.15, p<.05; and r=.14, p<.05; respectively). Therefore, this study found that the narrow personality trait predicted better than the broader traits. Conflicting evidence was provided concerning whether GPA and course grade might be used interchangeably as valid criteria.

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