Personality and Choice of Academic Major

Personality and Choice of Academic Major - PERSONALITY...

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PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS AND CHOICE OF ACADEMIC MAJOR: ARE TRADITIONAL STEREOTYPES OBSOLETE? Authors: Charles D. Pringle, Professor of Management; Philip B. Dubose, Professor of Management and Michael D. Yankey, Lecturer of Management James Madison University Background Among the many reasons for choosing an academic major are stereotypes that students hold of particular occupations and the degree to which they believe that their personalities match those sterotypes. We examined relevant personality characteristics (i.e., achievement motivation, conformity, conscientiousness, creativity and extroversion) of 899 students majoring in business administration fields. Students majoring in accounting and marketing and, to a lesser extent, in computer information systems and economics possessed personality characteristics that fit traditional societal steretypes of those occupations (e.g., marketing majors were the most extroverted; accounting students scored highest in conformity). The weakness of using stereotypes in choosing a major and ways that faculty members and advisors can supplant this common practice with more accurate information are discussed. College students select their major field of study for many reasons. One of those is the stereotypes that students hold of particular occupations (Noel, Michael & Levas, 2003; Schlee, Harich, Kiesler & Curren, 2007). Students and adults alike often assume that the people who hold such jobs as accountant, engineer, librarian, Marine, police officer, professor and software developer possess certain personality characteristics. So few of us are surprised when a student who is analytical and introverted chooses to major in accounting. In fact, Holland's theory of vocational choice (1985) proposes that people will enter professions where they believe the work environment will match their personalities. Hence, a common assumption is that the individuals within an occupation will share similar personality characteristics and that those characteristics will differ from those possessed by people in other occupations. The need for a personality-environment fit, of course, is not the only reason for a student's choice of an academic major. For example, studies have shown relationships between choice of major and such variables as salaries (Cebula & Lopes, 1982); perceived career opportunities (Newell, Titus & West, 1996); career prestige and self-employment opportunities (Lowe & Simons, 1997); reputation of the major, perceived quality of instruction, and amount and type of promotional information (Kim, Markham & Cangelosi, 2002); characteristics of the student's instructors in the major field (Hermanson, Hermanson & Ivancevick, 1995; Mauldin, Crain & Mounce, 2000); intellectual challenge of the field (Lowe & Simons, 1997); perceptions of courses within the major field (Cohen & Hanno, 1993); extent of the student's quantitative skills (Cohen & Hanno, 1993; Pritchard, Potter & Saccucci, 2004); the student's
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This note was uploaded on 05/23/2011 for the course BIO 101 taught by Professor Lanno during the Spring '08 term at Ohio State.

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Personality and Choice of Academic Major - PERSONALITY...

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