Background: Surgeons' personalities have been described as different from those of the general population, but this was based on small descriptive studies limited by the choice of evaluation instrument. Furthermore, although the importance of the human factor in team performance has been recognized, the effect of personality traits on technical performance is unknown. This study aimed to compare surgical residents' personality traits with those of the general population and to evaluate whether an association exists between their personality traits and technical performance using a virtual reality (VR) laparoscopy simulator.
Methods: In this study, 95 participants (54 residents with basic, 29 with intermediate laparoscopic experience, and 12 students) underwent personality assessment using the NEO-Five Factor Inventory and performed five VR tasks of the Lap Mentor™ basic tasks module. The residents' personality traits were compared with those of the general population, and the association between VR performance and personality traits was investigated.
Results: Surgical residents showed personality traits different from those of the general population, demonstrating lower neuroticism, higher extraversion and conscientiousness, and male residents showed greater openness. In the multivariable analysis, adjusted for gender and surgical experience, none of the personality traits was found to be an independent predictor of technical performance.
Conclusions: Surgical residents present distinct personality traits that differ from those of the general population. These traits were not found to be associated with technical performance in a virtual environment. The traits may, however, play an important role in team performance, which in turn is highly relevant for optimal surgical performance.