Uncommon Personality Traits and Career Performance

Previous research has shown that personality traits – such as being conscientious, open to experience, and outgoing – predict job performance. What about uncommon (i.e. aberrant) characteristics such as being obsessive-compulsive, antisocial, and narcissistic?

According to a new study, aberrant personality characteristics also predict job performance. Specifically, borderline features, which includes having unstable interpersonal relations and poor impulse control; schizotypal traits, such as odd thoughts and disorganized thinking; and avoidant tendencies, such as social inhibition and hypersensitivity to criticism, were related to negative career outcomes. In contrast, antisocial traits, such as superficial charm and a disregard for others, and narcissistic features, such as a strong sense of self-importance and a need to be admired, were related to positive career outcomes.

Overall, these results were found through a 15-year study of 247 Belgian college students. In 1994, participants responded to a personality questionnaire, and 15 years later, their career performance was evaluated. The NEO PI-R, a comprehensive personality questionnaire, measured personality. Income, number of subordinates, and managerial position served as indicators of extrinsic career success, and job satisfaction, career satisfaction, and perceived job stress served as indicators of intrinsic career success.