Character traits, such as grit or desire to learn, have a heavy hand in academic success and are partially rooted in genetics, according to a recent study from UT Austin.
Though academic success is dependent on abilities such as logic and reasoning, researchers believe certain personality and character traits can motivate and drive learning.
In a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, UT Austin Psychology Associate Professor Elliot Tucker-Drob found that genetic differences among people account for about half of the differences in their character, and that the remaining variation in character was influenced by factors outside of the home and school.
“Until now, parenting and schooling have been suggested as likely explanations for character, but our study suggests otherwise,” says Tucker-Drob, who examined academic achievement using data from 811 third- to eighth-grade twins and triplets.
Twin studies compare similarities of identical and fraternal twins to estimate genetic influences on personality, interests, school grades and behavior problems. By comparing siblings, researchers learned that variance in a child’s character could be attributed to unshared environmental effects. “As with intelligence and personality, genetics form a sizable part of the basis for character,” says Tucker-Drob. In the study, genetics accounted for 69 percent of a person’s general character, with 31 percent accounted for by environmental influences.