Identifying Dominant Personality Traits

Kirstie L. Bash and Lynn S. Urban,
University of Central Missouri

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Abstract Determining dominant personality traits among students enables personality to be matched with the “best fit” for career placement, as well as to match student personalities with faculty personalities. This research aims to establish literature on criminal justice student personality traits and to determine scores on personality inventories. Results from analyzing data from 124 criminal justice and 67 psychology students, using an independent measures t-test for the Big Five personality scores, suggest that overlapping career paths is responsible for similar scores on personality inventories. Dominant personality traits were not observed in the results; however, this research provides a foundation on personality research for criminal justice students.

Introduction Personality measures are developed to assess differing traits and to understand individual differences in personality, as well as to predict behaviors. The Big Five Inventory (BFI) assesses five broad personality traits: consciousness, openness, neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness, which can be generalized across cultures (McCrae & Costa, 1997; Salgado, 1997). The five broad traits were characterized with distinct adjectives by Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, and Barrick (1999). Conscientiousness represented persistence, responsibility, organization, hardworking, and carefulness. Openness embodied adjectives such as intellectual and unconventional. Neuroticism represented anxiety, depression, irritability, and fear. Extraversion illustrated characteristics like sociability, impulsivity, and assertiveness. Agreeableness embodied cooperativeness, cheerfulness, and gentleness (Judge et al., 1999).

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