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Personality differences uncovered between students at different US universities

10 April 2017

Psychology is overly dependent on student samples, but on the plus side, you might assume that one advantage of comparing across student samples is that you can rule out the influence of complicating background factors, such as differences in average personality profile.

In fact, writing in the Journal of Personality, a team of US researchers led by Katherine Corker at Kenyon College has challenged this assumption: their findings suggest that if you test a group of students at one university, it’s not safe to assume that their average personality profile will match that of a sample of students from a university elsewhere in the same country.

Corker and her colleagues measured the personality of over 8,500 students studying a range of majors (including psychology, business and nutrition) at 30 colleges and universities across 20 different US states. 

They found some significant differences in average student personality between different sites. The amount of difference that was explained by the site of testing was modest – about 1 to 3 per cent – but Corker and her colleagues said that this “should not be dismissed as necessarily trivial or unimportant”.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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