Personality To Match your Chosen Field?

Each day I post a new MCAT CARS Passage. This is for anyone who wants to practice for the CARS Section.

Every article is selected to meet the AAMC MCAT criteria for CARS.

Subscribe by email to receive a new practice passage each morning.

March 31, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

They say it doesn’t matter what you major in during college. It might matter, however, if you want your personality to match your chosen field—lest you end up the lone nod-greeter in a marketing class full of exploding fistbumps.

According to a new meta-analysis, there are significant personality differences between students in different academic majors. For the review paper, Anna Vedel, a psychologist from Aarhus University in Denmark, analyzed 12 studies examining the correlation between personality traits and college majors. Eleven of them found significant differences between majors. The review examined the so-called “Big Five” traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Arts and humanities majors, Vedel found, are in the unenviable position of being anxious, but not very organized. They were less conscientious than students in fields like science, law, or engineering. They also tended to score higher on neuroticism.

On the plus side, along with political-science majors, arts and humanities students also scored higher on openness than did economics, engineering, law, or science students. Openness is characterized by an active imagination, love of variety, and a wide range of intellectual interests.

Economics and business students rated consistently lower in neuroticism than other groups. Along with law students, business and economics students were also less agreeable than students in the other majors. Economics, law, political-science, and medicine students were more extroverted than students in the arts, humanities, and the sciences.

The effect sizes tended to be “medium” for all of the traits, and “large” for openness.

The findings are explained somewhat, but not entirely, by the gender distribution among college majors. It’s well-known, for instance, that women are far less likely to enter engineering fields than men are, and women tend to be more neurotic, agreeable, and conscientious than men, according to the study. These results partly jive with a 2002 meta-analysis, which found that “artistic” vocational interests correlate with openness, and “social” and “enterprising” ones—such as business and politics—with extraversion.

Vedel disputes the idea that college academic programs socialize students to exhibit certain personality traits. (In other words, that it’s the art program that makes art majors more open.) Two of the studies in the review analyzed the students’ personalities just after enrollment, suggesting they arrived at college with their unique dispositions already set.

Vedel writes that she hopes her findings can help college counselors guide students into the best majors for their personalities. That, she thinks, might help reduce drop-out rates. At the very least, it might help certain English majors understand why they never can seem to remember to do their stats homework, even though they worry about it constantly.

Adapted from theatlantic.

Review

Leave a comment below with what you understood to be the author’s main ideas. Ask about this daily passage in office hours/workshops for help.

Subscribe to my Daily CARS mailing list by entering your email.

The full list of daily articles is available here.

This was an article on Education.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
Contact Information

28 Comments


  1. Study: relationship between college major and personality; may ⇩ drop out rate.

    Reply

  2. Emphasized how certain personality traits can be correlated with a particular major.

    Reply

  3. College majors= diff. personalities

    Reply

  4. The students’ personality matches the majors they choose in college

    Reply

  5. MIP: Different personalities match different majors. Vedel wants to match the two so drop-out rates decrease.

    Reply

  6. Study = significantly different personalities between majors (Vedel)

    Reply

  7. personalities= diff for majors + important bc an reduce dropout rate
    gender= may explain difference in personality traits of individuals in a particular major

    Reply

  8. major = personality, major =/= personality (Vedel)

    Reply

  9. Certain majors tend to have certain personality traits and these personality traits are formed before college.

    Reply

  10. MI: personalities = different among majors (RTA: Vedel)

    Reply

  11. MI= personality = majors; but there is no causality (students have predetermined personalities)

    Reply

  12. MIP: personality difference btw majors; programs =/= socialize traits

    Reply

  13. personality = influence for major/success

    Reply

  14. College majors = different personalities

    Reply

  15. MI: Majors = Diff personalities, useful for guiding students personality -> Major

    Reply

  16. Vedel’s study -> personality difference among college majors; Vendel hopes to match personality with majors -> decrease drop-out rate

    Reply

  17. MI: diff Personality = college major/ Vedel’s research–> help students

    Reply

  18. Different major = different personalities (Vedel’s study), the study can be helpful.

    Reply

  19. MIP: there are set personality differences between majors (Vedel); tone = neutral

    Reply

  20. study found different majors have distinct sets of personality traits. confounding variable= gender?, but def not the influence of the college programs itself.

    Reply

  21. MIP : Personality leads to college majors as shown by various studies

    Reply

  22. Vedel, conducts an analysis of 12 research studies to conclude that 11 of them found a correlation with particular characteristics/ personality traits and college majors.
    The passage compares different majors and their related characteristics, while confirming that Vedel disagrees with the idea that college programs mold students to obtain those personality traits.
    In conclusion, Vedel conducts this analysis in the hopes of allowing college counselors to have a better guide for helping students and reducing college drop-outs.

    Reply

  23. MIP: diff major = diff. personality traits
    Tone: Neutral
    Extreme words: No

    Reply

  24. MIP: Personalities are predisposed towards specific fields, Encourage personality matching to field (AW)

    Reply

Leave a Reply