Conscientiousness is the Personality Trait that Most Often Leads to Success

success winning

The only major personality trait that consistently leads to success was found to be conscientiousness. This key trait is defined as “the state of being thorough, careful, or vigilant”. It includes tendencies to favour self discipline, carefulness, and thoroughness.

According to Paul Tough, a Canadian-American writer of How Children Succeed, conscientiousness “is emerging as one of the primary dimensions of successful functioning across the lifespan”. Also, people who get a high score in conscientiousness tests, get getter grades in school and college, commit fewer crimes and stay married longer. Positive implications also include living longer, having fewer strokes, lower blood pressure and a lower likelihood for Alzheimer’s disease.

Conscientiousness Relates With Career Success

On top of this, an astounding amount of evidence confirms the correlation of conscientiousness with success. A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious men earn higher salaries. The National Institute on Aging also found that conscientiousness is linked to income and job satisfactionOther studies show that conscientiousness is the most important factor for finding and retaining employment. 

A study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology claims conscientiousness is the one trait that has a huge impact on our ability to find and retain employment.

How to Tell if You are Conscientious…

Psychologists classify conscientiousness as one of the "Big 5" personality traits, with the rest being agreeableness, extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Here are a few characteristics to help you determine if you make a conscientious person.


Conscientious people tend to be responsible, super organised and proactive. University of Illinois psychologist Brent Roberts says that “conscientious people have a tendency to organize their lives well. A disorganized, un-conscientious person might lose 20 or 30 minutes rooting through their files to find the right document, an inefficient experience conscientious folks tend to avoid. Basically, by being conscientious, people sidestep stress they’d otherwise create for themselves”.

Goal setter

Being conscientious means you are good at setting and working towards your goals as well as persisting when confronting setbacks. If your super ambitious goal can’t be attained, you will switch to an alternative one rather than getting discouraged and giving up. Consequently, they end up achieving their goals that are in line with employers’ expectations.


Robert notes that conscientious employees are those who are distinguished by their punctuality. Studies indicated that arriving on time, doing thorough work without complaining, and being thoughtful toward your colleagues benefits people no matter what their job function or workplace situation is. "Being on top of deadlines is almost universally a good thing," an industrial psychologist told the Entrepreneur.


The bigger and perhaps less visible indicator of conscientiousness is how people tackle various challenges in life. What strategy do they employ? Do they quit or redouble their efforts to overcome the setbacks? According to Roberts, "The conscientious person is going to have a plan...Even if there is a failure, they’re going to have a plan to deal with that failure".

On the whole, conscientiousness is an integral part of the "Big 5" personality traits and has been found a winning human quality that predicts career success.  High conscientiousness scoring individuals generate higher incomes across all industries and do better at finding or retaining their job. Conscientious employees work hard in the face of challenges, are able to control their impulses and plan ahead. They are also empathic towards other people and are able to take and make decisions.

Take this psychology test to assess your own personality or compare your personality to another person’s.




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