Children’s personalities may influence how they perform in math and reading, according to a study by psychology researchers at UT Austin. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that characteristics related to openness, such as intellectual curiosity and confidence, made children more able to take on math and reading than characteristics related to conscientiousness, such as diligence and perseverance.
“Our findings provide additional knowledge on the complex set of skills that interact and give rise to differences in academic achievement between children,” says the study’s lead author, Margherita Malanchini, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology and the Population Research Center at UT Austin.
Data was collected from more than 1,000 twins, ages 8-14. Studies on twins allow researchers to isolate and observe the impact of genetic and environmental factors. Even after accounting for intelligence, researchers found a strong link between executive functioning — the ability to plan, organize and complete tasks — and proficiency in reading and math.