Running a state-level analysis comparing the relationships of estimated conscientiousness (C) and estimated IQ with average credit score does nothing to dissuade me from this skepticism. Because only state rankings (rather than actual figures) are available from Rentfrow's research on Big 5 personality factors, average credit scores and IQ are also displayed in the form of 1-50 rankings. Consequently, both relationships with credit scores appear more linear (and thus more vigorously correlated) than they actually are. The first graph shows how C and credit score relate to one another:
Yes, you are interpreting that correctly. Quite surprisingly, the relationship is an inverse one, yielding an r-value of -.47 (p=.0006). That is, as conscientiousness apparently increases, credit scores decrease.
A credit score measures a person's creditworthiness--how likely he is to pay back what he borrows in a timely and complete manner, live within his means, and effectively manage his personal finances. Government interference notwithstanding, it determines how able he is to achieve home ownership. The traits resulting in higher credit scores are largely captured by a person's level of C. Wikipedia defines conscientiousness as follows:
The trait of being painstaking and careful, or the quality of acting according to the dictates of one's conscience. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement. It is an aspect of what has traditionally been called character. Conscientious individuals are generally hard working and reliable.Might the credit scores released by creditscore.com be unreliable? Very doubtful given the strong, positive correlation between a state's average credit score ranking and average IQ (+.83, p=0). The proceding graph depicts this relationship:
My intention is not to dismiss Rentfrow's research, though it is difficult not to be hesitant in endorsing it when the reported findings so sorely lack face validity. As a result, I am presently unsure of what to do with his work, but have in mind other correlations to investigate.