Personality, Nations and Innovation

Personality, Nations, and Innovation: Relationships Between Personality Traits and National Innovation ScoresG. Daniel SteelTiffany RinneJohn Fairweather

First Published August 25, 2011 Research Article

Article information 


Research has shown relationships between personality factors and innovation at the level of the individual person. Recently, data have become available that would allow testing of these relationships at the nation-state level. Based on theoretical aspects of the Big Five factors of personality, and on empirical work conducted using individuals as the unit of analysis, the authors hypothesize that mean national scores of Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness would be related to national innovation scores.

Multinational data on mean national scores of the Big Five Inventory and the NEO-PI–R are compared to national-level innovation input and output scores from the International Innovation Index and the Global Innovation Index. On both indices, the results of the analyses using the NEO-PI-R show strong, positive relationships between Openness to Experience and both aspects of innovation, a strong positive relationship between Agreeableness and innovation inputs and no relationships between Conscientiousness and either innovation inputs or outputs.

The analyses using the Big Five Inventory data shows no reliable relationship between national-level personality and national innovation scores. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for what one can learn from national-level studies of personality and innovation. Suggestions are offered to those governments and financial institutions interested in encouraging economic growth via innovation.Post navigation

Critical thinking and personality

In “Critical thinking: beyond intelligence” (spanish) , Mariette and Gauvrit gather different empirical studies on the importance of intelligence (measured by IQ test) and of certain personality traits (openness to experiences) in critical thinking.

There are three main characteristics that promote critical thinking: curiosity, the desire to find truth and humility.

To learn more, we are invited to to deepen the research carried out:

On the relative independence of thinking biases and cogitive ability. K.E. Stanovich y R.F. West en Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 94, n.º 4, págs. 672-695, 2008.

A longitudinal study on enhancing critical thinking and reading comprehension in Title I classrooms. J. VanTassel-­Baska et al. en Journal for the Education of the Gifted, vol. 33, n.º 1, págs. 7-37, 2009.

A meta-analysis on critical thinking and community college student achievement. C. J. Fong et al. en Thinking Skills and Creativity, vol. 26, págs. 71-83, 2017.

Des têtes bien faites. Défense de l’esprit critique. Nicolas Gauvrit y Sylvain Delouvée. Prensa Universitaria de Francia (PUF), 2019.

The use and misuse of personality tests

Personality matters and impacts

As stated in the OECD document “Personality matters: relevance and evaluation of personality characteristics” by Milos Kankaras in 2017 (1), personality characteristics shape human behavior and influence different and relevant areas of life. They do so not only through their direct effects on life achievements, but also through their indirect effects on other important personal factors such as the development of cognitive abilities, the achievement of educational qualifications, the creation of a family, work performance, social inclusion and the general well-being of individuals and societies as a whole.
In fact, there is evidence in a growing body of empirical research on the importance of personality characteristics for several important domains and life impacts (Roberts et al., 2007; Gutman and Schoon, 2013; Heckman and Kautz, 2012; Kautz et al, 2014).

In particular, these studies indicate that various personality attributes have a substantial influence on important areas of life, such as education. achievement, occupational status, productivity, job and life satisfaction, criminality, health and mortality.

In terms of education and training, personality matters. Different meta-analyses have shown that the Responsibility factor has a high impact on academic qualifications, which could be associated with “cognitive” skills.
Kankaras shows that among the eight key competencies listed in the European Framework for Lifelong Learning, (2) at least four refer mainly to personality traits and “non-cognitive” skills:

  • Learning to learn (3): Key elements include self-discipline, perseverance and motivation.
  • Social and civic skills (4) :Key elements include communication skills, tolerance, empathy and coping with stress.
  • Sense of initiative and leadership. Entrepreneurship (5). Key elements include the ability to plan and manage projects, leadership skills, innovation, risk taking.
  • Expression and cultural awareness. Creativity (6): Key elements include appreciation and understanding of diverse cultural forms of expression of ideas, experiences, and emotions.
(1) Summary from: Kankaras’, M. (2017), “Personality matters: Relevance and assessment of personality characteristics”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 157, OECD Publishing, Paris,
In this paper, Kankaras reviews the scientific literature covering a wide range of personality characteristics, discussing their conceptualizations and main features, their relevance to important life and work outcomes, and the main ways in which they are measured.
(2) Key competences and basic skills European framework

(3) «Learning to learn” is the ability to initiate and persist in learning, to organize your own learning and to manage time and information effectively, either individually or in groups. This competence involves being aware of one’s own learning process and learning needs, determining available opportunities, and being able to overcome obstacles in order to complete learning successfully. Such competence means acquiring, processing and assimilating new knowledge and skills, as well as seeking guidance and making use of it. Learning to learn” means that learners build on previous life and learning experiences in order to use and apply new knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts, including private and professional life and education and training. Motivation and confidence are crucial for the acquisition of this competence.

(4) “Social and civic competences include personal, interpersonal and intercultural competences and encompass all forms of behaviour that prepare people to participate effectively and constructively in social and professional life, especially in increasingly diversified societies, and, where appropriate, to resolve conflicts. Civic competence prepares people to participate fully in civic life through knowledge of social and political concepts and structures and a commitment to active and democratic participation”.

(5) “Sense of initiative and entrepreneurial spirit” means the ability of the person to transform ideas into actions. It is related to creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects to achieve objectives. This competence supports all people, not only in their daily life, at home and in society, but also in the workplace, by being aware of the context in which their work is carried out and being able to take advantage of opportunities. It is the foundation for other more specific skills and knowledge required by people who establish or contribute to a social or commercial activity. This should include an awareness of ethical values and promote good governance”.

(6) “Appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions through various media, including music, the performing arts, literature and the visual arts”

Personality and work environment

The impact of the leader’s personality on team performance

It has been confirmed that there are four factors of the personality of leaders that have a significant and positive relationship with the work performance of employees: extraversion, openness to experience, responsibility and Agreeableness (Maisarah, 2016). Agreeableness has shown the most significant correlation. On the contrary, neuroticism negatively correlates with such performance.

When it comes to leading teams, the personality of its members is a very relevant aspect. Linking the personality factors of the OCEAN model with motivation (Montaig, 2020) it has been verified, by comparing with Maslow’s pyramid, that neuroticism negatively correlates with the entire pyramid, extraversion positively correlates with the need for recognition, kindness with that of belonging and responsibility and openness with self-realization.

In the training environment, Openness, Extraversion and Agreeableness of teachers have been shown to have a significant positive effect on the enjoyment of language learners.

Vocational guidance should include knowledge of personality, given its impact on the choices to be made, as demonstrated in studies on STEM vocations.

AI is already a daily reality. Let us put it at our service!

Using “Strong Evidence on Soft Skills,” Heckman (2000 Nobel Laureate) and Kautz demonstrated that personality traits predict and cause outcomes. Today, science has shown that personality is a critical factor for multiple milestones in life, that it is as important as cognitive skills or technical knowledge (or even more), and that it is modifiable. Within the personality models, the OCEAN is the only one on which there is a worldwide scientific consensus and for that reason, it is used in the fields: educational, work and therapeutic and is linked to socio-emotional competences (misnamed “soft”) .

The latest advances in linguistic psychology make it possible to predict personality from textual information from the novel open vocabulary approach. Together with the speed and precision of artificial intelligence analysis, they achieve that what for some may seem like magic, is today applied science at the service of human development.

HumanAI allows you an agile and extensive analysis with which to complement tests and direct observations.