Personality tests are two a penny, and most of them are no more
meaningful than astrology (spoken like a true Capricorn). But there
are ways to study personality empirically—they just involve
accepting a lot of imperfection and fuzziness.
The “Big Five” personality traits do seem to get at something
meaningful about human personality. They certainly don’t capture
everything, but Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness,
Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism are traits that can be
measured with a high degree of stability from one test to the next.
They change in predictable ways across people’s lifespans and
with therapy, and they seem to be related in measurable ways to
people’s lives outside the context of a personality test.
One of those traits—conscientiousness—is, unsurprisingly,
strongly related to how people perform at work. But why, and in
what settings? A paper published this week in PNAS used the data
from more than 2,500 studies to summarize what we know about
conscientiousness. Unexpectedly, the authors find that
conscientiousness scores make less of a difference to people’s
performance when they’re in high-complexity careers. Instead, they
mainly seems to matter in low- or moderate-complexity jobs.
Source: FS – All – Science – News
Conscientiousness may matter less if you’re a lawyer than if you’re in sales