Volition and Academic Achievement: Interindividual Differences in Action Control Mediate the Effects of Conscientiousness and Sex on Secondary School Grading

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Abstract

School achievement is highly predictive of future success. Thus, variables predicting school achievement are of utmost importance. Besides cognitive abilities and personality traits, differences in volition are likely to influence the individual’s achievement. This study is the first to analyze the influence of volitional abilities in terms of action control on secondary education grading. Our results indicate that action orientation after failure (AOF) and decision-related action orientation (AOD) are associated with secondary school achievement. Furthermore, a multiple regression analysis revealed that AOF and AOD make unique contributions toward predicting final grade, beyond the effects of such prominent influencing factors as fluid intelligence, conscientiousness, and sex. Remarkably, the predictive value of conscientiousness did not prove to be unique in nature but was mediated by AOD. The same applies for sex differences in academic achievement. Our study reveals that the influence of sex on final grade was mediated by AOF and AOD. In summary, our results suggest that volition is an important predictor of achievement in secondary education. Therefore, we highly recommend including measures of volition into future studies investigating the noncognitive correlates of school achievement.

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