Neurotic and anxious students do better in school

Students who are motivated by a fear of failure need help – even when their grades are excellent. This kind of motivation will lead to stress and poorer mental health.

A Swedish study followed 200 students, aged 16 to 19 years old, through three years of high school.

Before starting high school, when they were still 16, they all took a personality test that revealed basic dominant character traits. After completing their final exams at age 19 the personality test results were compared against their grades.

The more nervous and orderly pupils with a strong sense of duty and a more acute awareness of expectations were the ones who wound up with the best grades.

“So we have a school system that rewards conscientious and anxiety-driven pupils,” concludes the researcher behind the new study, Pia Rosander of Lund University in a press release.

Five personality traits
It is important for teachers to be aware of pupils who are driven by fear of failure, no matter what grades they get. (Photo: Colourbox)

It is important for teachers to be aware of pupils who are driven by fear of failure, no matter what grades they get. (Photo: Colourbox)

The charting of the pupils was based on the five-factor model, a psychological categorisation of types of behaviour and traits which explain variations in personalities.

The five dimensions are extraversion, neuroticism, openness in experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. 

Emotional stability will often involve being robust and remaining reasonably calm under pressure, while on the other end of the scale are anxiety, nervousness and vulnerability. These three traits are often lumped together as neuroticism.

Openness can include creativity, curiosity and also rather practical and handy persons.

IQ, control and extraversion explains
Extraverts spend more time cultivating friendships and less on homework. This lowers their odds of getting top grades. Photo: Colourbox)

Extraverts spend more time cultivating friendships and less on homework. This lowers their odds of getting top grades. Photo: Colourbox)

Rosander controlled against IQs in the three studies for her doctoral dissertation and found a clear, strong association between personality type and academic performance: 

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