Openness and Postsecondary Academic Performance: A Meta-Analysis of Facet-, Aspect-, and Dimension-Level Correlations

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Abstract

Openness to experience has often been linked to academic achievement because it subsumes traits such as curiosity, open-mindedness, thoughtfulness, and intellectuality. However, recent meta-analyses have reported rather small true correlation estimates. In this article, we first provide a comprehensive rationale for a relationship between openness and academic performance with a distinct focus on specific components of openness (i.e., facets and aspects). We then extend prior research by presenting our own meta-analysis (k = 28, N = 5,861) on the relationship between 6 openness facets and postsecondary academic performance. Furthermore, we report results from meta-analytic structural equation modeling (k = 19, N = 3,627) that describe the effects of 2 openness aspects, which form an intermediate construct-level between dimension and facets, on academic achievement. Finally, we investigate 2 possible moderators in a dimension-level meta-analysis (k = 149, N = 50,449). Overall, our findings suggest that (a) only 2 openness facets are positive predictors of academic performance, (b) the 2 openness aspects have contrary effects on academic achievement, and (c) the correlation between openness and academic performance is moderated by openness scales and academic majors. We conclude that the true potential of openness for predicting academic performance is concealed within the heterogeneity of the construct and discuss according perspectives for future research.

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