How Your Personality Could Determine Your Salary


That people earn different salary levels throughout their career is hard to dispute. Interestingly, these differences are even evident among people with seemingly identical qualifications, experience, even IQ levels.

See Also: How to Discover Your Personality Type to Find the Best Job for You

I’ve written previously about various studies that explored the kind of personality types that have been linked to success in life. Mostly, these focus in on traits such as open mindedness and conscientiousness.

That isn’t the whole picture though. Studies have shown, for instance, that emotional stability is linked with higher salaries. What’s really behind the higher wages of such people though? Are they really more productive than their peers or are there any other reasons?

What Underpins our Productivity

A recent study set out to explore what personality traits underpin productivity in the workpace. The results revealed that traits such as neuroticism and conscientiousness were essential to our productivity.  In simple terms, the more stable we are emotionally, and the more conscientious we are, the more productive we turn out to be, which in turn gives our earnings a boost.

The researchers asked several hundred participants to complete a numerical task inside a 20 minute timeframe. Correct responses were given a bonus, whereas incorrect responses were punished. Earnings therefore were designed to reflect how successful and productive people had been at the task.

Each participant was also asked to complete a questionnaire that was designed to provide an insight into their personality.

The authors believe that their findings provides a clear connection between our personality and how productive we are, and subsequently how much we earn. Participants in the study who were both conscientious and stable emotionally performed much better on the task, therefore earning more, which the authors believe is the same in real life too.

Interestingly, the results revealed some gender differences. Female participants tended to be more neurotic than their male peers, which manifested itself in lower levels of emotional stability and greater propensity for mood changes. However, it wasn’t this that hurt their chances so much as their openness to new experiences. Women who were artistic, imaginative and intellectually orientated seemed to earn much less on the task than their more stoic peers.

Extroversion also seemed to work against women, although the opposite appeared to be the case for men. The authors suggest this could be due to the different ways extroversion manifests itself in men and women. Extroverted men, for instance, might be assertive and ambitious, whilst extroverted women can be more gregarious and sociable.

Hiring for Personality

Whilst there have been numerous organisations that claim they hire for personality and train for skill, these findings provide a renewed basis for doing this by highlighting the kind of traits that often underpin great performance.

It begs the question of whether we should be applying as much time and effort into improving our personality as we do acquiring new skills.  After all, personality is something that remains changeable for much longer than our ability to improve our cognitive abilities.

See Also: The Best Careers for Your Personality Type – Infographic

How would you define your own personality?  Do you think you fit the productive type outlined above? Your thoughts and comments below please...

Do Personality Traits Affect Productivity? Evidence from the Lab