The Interface between Personality Psychology and Education Economics

By Pera, Aurel | Economics, Management and Financial Markets, March 2014 | Go to article overview

The Interface between Personality Psychology and Education Economics


Pera, Aurel, Economics, Management and Financial Markets


ABSTRACT. The aim of the present study is to examine and evaluate the relationship between personality and outcomes, dimensions of personality that influence the acquisition of skills and knowledge, and the effects of personality traits on socio-economic outcomes. The theory that I shall seek to elaborate here puts considerable emphasis on cognitive ability as a powerful predictor of economic and social outcomes, the relationship of personality measures with years of schooling, and the validation of intelligence and personality measures in psychology.

JEL Codes: H75; P36; D03

Keywords: psychology; personality; economics; education; outcomes; cognitive

1. Introduction

I am specifically interested in how previous research investigated the implications of behavioral economics for analyzing the benefits and costs of social policies and programs, the power of personality in predicting life outcomes, and the importance of cognitive and personality traits on outcomes. The purpose of this study is to examine the power of standardized achievement tests to predict later academic and occupational outcomes, the relevance of personality to economics, and the stability of personality traits over the life cycle. The literature on the relevance of economics to personality psychology, the predictive power of personality on outcomes, and the psychological foundations of behavioral economics is relevant to this discussion.

2. The Psychological Foundations of Behavioral Economics

Personality is a strategy function for responding to life situations (personality traits produce measured personality as the output of personality strategy functions). Personality is a system of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that emerge from the interacting components. Psychologists use measurements of the performance of persons on tasks or in taking actions to identify personality traits and cognitive traits. Personality traits are not merely situationdriven ephemera. Both cognitive and personality traits evolve over the life cycle at different rates at different stages. Measured personality is a response function using an economic model of preferences, expectations, and constraints. Personality is a response function mapping variables that characterize traits (Nica, 2013a) and situations to manifest (measured) personality. The scores on achievement tests depend on cognitive and personality measurements (Florescu, 2013), with a substantial predictive role for personality measures. Personality psychology considers both universal traits and individual differences, and examines the ways in which people are unique (personality psychology considers cognitive functioning as one aspect of personality). Cognitive activities help to determine measured personality. Personality is a property of a system of equations, whereas measured personality is the output of those equations. Personality traits need to be distinguished from the full expression of personality, which is generated by the traits interacting with other factors. (Almlund et al., 2011)

Keynes's work emphasizes the importance of psychological factors in human decision-making: Keynes focuses on the importance of psychological propensities in analyzing the economic consequences of human behavior, refuses the imposition of rationality (i.e. obeying some specific axioms of choice) as the decisive criterion of human behavior, and is conscious about the necessity to incorporate realistic behavioral assumptions in economic theories that deal with judgment under uncertainty. The aggregate behavior of the economy cannot be reduced to a sum of individual behaviors. In situations of fundamental uncertainty, people rely on a series of conventional behaviors to make decisions and base their actions. Average opinion and judgment, as expressed in current market prices and quantities, is a focal point helping solve the coordination problem of investment decisions. Conformity is an important aspect of convention formation when uncertainty is involved. …

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