Education Project Topics

The Influence of Personality Traits on Students’ Academic Performance in Secondary Schools

The Influence of Personality Traits on Students’ Academic Performance in Secondary Schools

The Influence of Personality Traits on Students’ Academic Performance in Secondary Schools

Chapter One

Purpose of the Study

The general objective of this study is to explore the relationship between personality traits and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State. Other specific objectives are:

  1. To examine the effect of extraversion personality characteristics on students’ academic performance
  2. To investigate the effect of conscientiousness personality factor on students’ academic performance
  3. To explore the link between neuroticism trait and students’ academic outcomes in secondary school in Lagos State
  4. To find out whether agreeableness trait factor is related to students’ academic achievement.
  5. To examine the influence of openness trait factor on students’ academic performance.




This chapter gives an insight into various studies conducted by outstanding researchers, as well as explained terminologies with regards to the impact of personality traits on students academic performance.

The chapter also gives a resume of the history and present status of the problem delineated by a concise review of previous studies into closely related problems.


Several theories have emerged in a bid to explain why people behave the way they do. Although two factor out of the five factor model of personality is being used for this study, a major theory of personality was reviewed in addition to the trait theories. The following theories were reviewed.

 Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory:

Psychoanalysts believe man’s behaviour is triggered mostly by powerful hidden forces within the personality. These forces are shaped by childhood experiences and they play an important role in energizing and directing our everyday behaviour. Sigmund Freud, an Australian physician was the originator of this theory in the early nineties He says much of people’s everyday behaviour is motivated by unconscious forces about which they know little. In order to fully understand personality then one need to illuminate and expose what is in the unconscious. According to Freud’s model of personality, there are three major components: the id, the ego and the superego, which although are separate components, interact within the individual. The id, which is the raw, untamed, unorganized, uncultured and inherited part of personality whose function is to reduce the tension created by biological drives such as hunger, sex, aggressiveness and irrational impulses. It operates according to the pleasure principle which goal is the immediate reduction of tension and maximization of pleasure. However harsh realities of life prevent the satisfaction of the demands of the pleasure principle in most cases by presenting constraints. The ego acts as buffer and helps cushion the effects of reality. The ego operates according to the reality principle in which instinctual energy is retrained in order to maintain the safety of the individual and help to integrate him into the society. The ego makes decisions controls actions and allows thinking and problem solving of a higher order than the id is capable of. The superego acts the final component, which represents rights and wrongs of society as handed down by one’s parents, teachers and other important figures. It becomes part of personality when children learn rights from wrongs and continue to develop as people in the society in which they live begin to incorporate their own standards into them. These are the components of adult personality. Whenever the demands of the id or the super ego threaten to overwhelm the ego, anxiety is the result. Ego defense mechanisms such as regression, denial, repression etc. are therefore used to reduce to reduce anxiety by distorting either thoughts or reality. Although Freud’s conception faced a lot of criticisms due to dearth of scientific evidence to support it, nevertheless it had gained a lot of impact in the field of psychology.

Trait theories of Personality

The quest to know why people behave the way they do, has been on, it has attracted so many researches. In order to answer some of these questions, personality psychologists have developed a sophisticated model of personality known as trait theory. (Michel, 1978 in Daminabo, 2008) defined a trait as a “continuous dimension on which individual differences may be arranged quantitatively in terms of the amount of the characteristics the individual has”. Chauham, 1978 in Chowdhnry (2006), defined trait as “a property within the individual that accounts for his unique but relatively stable reactions to the environment”. Other personality theorists emphasize the role of biological, cognitive and environmental forces in shaping personality. Personality description is not the central goal of these theorists; instead their goal is to explain personality and behavior in terms of their underlying causes.

According to Hockenbugh and Hockenbugh (1997), trait theory of personality is one that focuses on identifying, describing and measuring individual differences. Feldman (1994) said that trait theories do not assume that some people have a trait and others do not; rather they propose that all people have certain trait, but that the degree to which the trait applies to a specific person varies and can be quantified. For instance, a person might be extremely shy, somewhat shy, or not shy at all. Hence a trait is typically described in terms of a range from one extreme to its opposite. The first attempt to identify and describe these characteristics was to develop a system to discover how many types of individuals there are and identify each person’s type. The ancient Greek psychologists divided people into four types: this was made popular by Galen, who in his own opinion also spoke of four types of individuals in Lefrancois (1983) they are sanguine (optimistic and happy). Melancholic (Unhappy, depressed). Choleric (violent tempered) the Phlegmatic (apathetic), not really moved to excesses of emotion.





This chapter covers the description and discussion on the various techniques and procedures used in the study to collect and analyze the data as it is deemed appropriate.

It is organized under the following sub-headings:

  • Research Design
  • Area of the Study
  • Population of the study
  • Sample and sampling procedure
  • Instrument of Data Collection
  • Validation of the Instrument
  • Reliability of the Instrument
  • Method of Data Collection
  • Method of Data Analysis


According to Asika (2009), research designs are often referred to as the structuring of investigation aimed at identifying variables and their relationships to one another. In this study, questionnaire serves as useful guide to the effort of generating data for this study. The survey research design through the administration of questionnaires was used for the study.


The study will be conducted in Lagos State, Nigeria. Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, the second fastest-growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world. The population of Lagos urban area, according to the Lagos State Government is 17.5 million, a number disputed by the Nigerian Government and judged unreliable by the National Population Commission of Nigeria.Lagos was reported in 2014 to have a metropolitan population of 21 million, making Lagos


The population of study consists of students of Education District V of Lagos State, Lagos. According to Wikipedia, 2015 61,000 enrolled for full time and part time programs in the school.




This chapter deals with the presentation and analysis of the result obtained through questionnaires. The data gathered were presented according to the order in which they were arranged in the research questions, simple percentage and pie graphs were used to analyze the demographic information of the respondents while Pearson correlation was adopted to test the research hypotheses.




Findings from the study revealed the following:

  • There is a significant relationship between personality traits and students’ academic performance.
  • Students have devised various illegal means to succeed in examinations, even when they are not academically competent.
  • Individual personality traits have ways of influencing students’ academic performance.
  • Family background can influence the academic performance of students.
  • Religion of students, can also affect their academic performance.

Based on the findings from this research work, we are therefore saying that for students to perform academically well, parents have a cardinal role to play as this would help improve the children’s personality traits. Religious leaders also have a role to play in improving personality traits of children. Religion where less attention are paid to children would produce children whose personality traits are very poor which would regrettably spill poor academic performance and social vices in school.


Based on the finding in this study, the following recommendations are hereby put forward:

Parents and teacher encourage their children/ wards or students to set clear goals and ensure that they are disciplined and careful to consistently achieve them. Incentives should be arranged to accompany success to encourage continuous positive performance. This will serve as positive reinforcement. Teacher should endeavor to be close to their students through interaction outside the classroom. Government too can encourage more sponsorship programs to encourage the indigent but conscientious students further their education. Students should learn the art of cooperating first with siblings at home and then with their peer in school.

Parents should do everything possible to discourage siblings, rivalry as this does not encourage agreeableness. Group assignments requiring cooperation should be encouraged by teacher to draw out the isolate and improve communication among the students. Wise counsel should be given by parents, teacher and counselors regarding the positive influence agreeableness has, not only in the home, nor in the classroom alone, but later in the workplace and in the society for peaceful co-existence. These should however not be at the expense of truth and objectivity. Good manner should be inculcated in students through sound moral instructions.


  • Agbakwuru, C. (2000). Teacher Personality traits and Characteristics and learning Effectiveness of Pupils. Psychological Perspective vol. 2 (22)-28
  • Chowdhury, A. E. and Gosling, H. (2008). Peer rejection: Development process and intervention strategies. New York: The Guilford Press.
  •  Blickle , B. Costa, G and McCrae (1992). The biological basis of personality. New York: Springfield
  • Wolfe, N. Johnson, T. Y. (1995). Intellectual ability, learning style, personality, achievement motivation and academic success of psychology students in higher education. Personality and Individual Differences 29, 1057-1068.
  •  Cattell, R.B., Eber H. W., &Tatsuka, M.M (1967). The handbook of the sixteen-personality factor questionnaire. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.