Personality, competencies, and life outcomes
Results from the German PIAAC longitudinal study
The present paper investigates the power of personality to predict important life outcomes in the context of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). On the most global level, personality can be described by the Big Five dimensions, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience. These five dimensions were assessed in the German PIAAC longitudinal study (N = 4122) and can thus be directly related to the central competence and outcome indicators measured in PIAAC. In a first step, we report the relationships between the Big Five dimensions and the basic competencies literacy and numeracy. In a second step, we investigate the extent to which the five personality dimensions can contribute to explaining six important life outcomes, above and beyond competencies and sociodemographic characteristics. Our results indicate that personality is substantially related to all six life outcomes. The portion of variance explained by personality was similar to, and sometimes larger than, that explained by competencies. After adjusting for competencies, personality was incrementally predictive of life satisfaction and health, in particular, and, to a lesser extent, of educational attainment, employment status, and income. The only outcome of which personality was not incrementally predictive over and above competencies was participation in continuing education. Overall, these findings highlight the merit of including measures for the Big Five personality domains in upcoming cycles of PIAAC.