Saturday, August 16, 2014

Big 5 personality traits and fertility

Dennis Mangan links to a study finding positive relationships between greater reproductive success and higher extraversion, lower conscientiousness, and lower openness to experience, as well as a more attenuated positive correlation with higher agreeableness.

The GSS dipped its toe in big five waters back in 2006, asking survey participants ten questions, two per trait (which is suboptimal, but we work with what we have). The mean number of children among respondents aged 30 or older by each trait (bifurcated for simplicity):

Extraverted -- 2.15
Introverted -- 2.19
Agreeable -- 2.38
Disagreeable -- 2.22
Conscientious -- 2.27
Unconscientious -- 1.98*
Stable -- 2.28
Neurotic -- 2.34
Open to experience -- 2.19
Closed to experience -- 2.17

Some marginal suggestive support for agreeableness but not for extraversion, conscientiousness, or openness to experience.

GSS variables used: BIG51A(1-2)(4-5), BIG51B(1-2)(4-5), BIG51C(1-2)(4-5), BIG51D(1-2)(4-5), BIG51E(1-2)(4-5)

* Only 8 valid cases--the others were in the 3- or 4-digits range--unfortunately, the conscientiousness questions are worded in such a way that a respondent really has to make himself out to be a dirt bag to categorize as not being conscientious; that is, he has to describe himself as someone who is lazy and incapable of doing a thorough job on things.


Anonymous said...

I really, really hope the GSS study is right and not Mangan's study. There are too few people like me already.

Audacious Epigone said...

I'm skeptical as to the utility of the big 5 personality traits. I think Haidt's moral dimensions are more useful.

Acronym said...

Given that conservatives have been having more kids than liberals (or at least white liberals) & giving the correlation between openness to experience and one's right/left political leanings, I am surprised to see open to experience having a slightly higher level of fertility. The other study linking lower openness to experience to higher fertility would seem to correlate with other studies.