Truth and fiction in the association between Openness and education: The role of biased responding

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Abstract

Previous research has identified Openness to Experience as a significant predictor of differences in educational attainment, with higher levels of Openness reported among more educated individuals. Using data from a large community sample, we argue that this association contains fiction as well as truth. We found that educational attainment was correlated not only with Openness as indicated by self- and peer report, but also with the tendency to exaggerate one's level of Openness. The association between education and overclaiming of Openness was mediated by views of the desirability of Openness: Openness was seen as a more desirable trait by more educated individuals, and those who viewed Openness as more desirable were more likely to overstate their levels of the trait in self-reports. These results highlight the importance of non-self-report data in personality research and the role of individual views of trait desirability for biasing self-reports.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume35
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
ISSN1041-6080
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Oct 2014

Keywords

  • Big Five personality
  • Educational attainment
  • Idiographically desirable responding
  • Values

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