How To Succeed in College/Choosing Your Major

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Does personality influence your major?[edit]

You may have been told that your personality can help predict the type of major you should choose. But is that true? Recent research suggests that it is not.[1] Personality is not necessarily a good predictor of occupational choice. According to one study that looked at this question, "an understanding of what an individual is likely to do is based partly on personality characteristics but also on how much intellectual effort the individual is likely to put forth."[1] Thus, pure intelligence, discounting drive and personality, does not accurately determine what one should major in or chose as a career. Rather, interest and drive play a large role in determining one’s major and their success within the classroom and beyond. What this research suggests, then, is that people who major in an area that is of personal interest will typically succeed. What's more, one’s interests tend to be correlated with one’s abilities; for example, science and engineering interests tend to be “positively associated with Math, Spatial, and Mechanical ability scores."[1] In short, don't take a personality test to choose your major. Choose a major that you like.


  1. a b c Ackerman, P L, and E D Heggestad. 1997. “Intelligence, personality, and interests: evidence for overlapping traits.” Psychological Bulletin 121(2):219-245.