Big five personality traits and performance: A quantitative synthesis of 50+ meta-analyses

J Pers. 2021 Oct 23. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12683. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The connection between personality traits and performance has fascinated scholars in a variety of disciplines for over a century. The present research synthesizes results from 54 meta-analyses (k = 2028, N = 554,778) to examine the association of Big Five traits with overall performance.

Method: Quantitative aggregation procedures were used to assess the association of Big Five traits with performance, both overall and in specific performance categories.

Results: Whereas conscientiousness yielded the strongest effect (ρ = 0.19), the remaining Big Five traits yielded comparable effects (ρ = 0.10, 0.10, -0.12, and 0.13 for extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness). These associations varied dramatically by performance category. Whereas conscientiousness was more strongly associated with academic than job performance (0.28 vs 0.20), extraversion (-0.01 vs 0.14) and neuroticism (-0.03 vs -0.15) were less strongly associated with academic performance. Finally, associations of personality with specific performance outcomes largely replicated across independent meta-analyses.

Conclusions: Our comprehensive synthesis demonstrates that Big Five traits have robust associations with performance and documents how these associations fluctuate across personality and performance dimensions.

Keywords: Big Five; meta-analysis; performance; personality.