Aberrant personality tendencies and academic success throughout engineering education

T. Bipp (Corresponding author), Ad Kleingeld, Chris Snijders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: In a longitudinal field study, we investigated the predictive associations between six aberrant personality tendencies (schizotypal, avoidant, borderline, antisocial, narcissistic, obsessive‐compulsive) and academic success of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students.
Method: Bachelor students of Industrial Engineering at a Dutch technical university (N = 432, Mage = 18.45; 87.3% male) filled out the NEO‐PI‐R and aberrant tendencies were operationalized by the five‐factor model (FFM) compound technique. Indicators of academic achievement (grades) and persistence (credit points earned per year, re‐enrollment, study duration) were made available by the academic office.
Results: Validities across the 3 years of the study program consistently support the role of two aberrant tendencies: Individuals with high antisocial tendency reached lower academic achievement, took longer to finish their study, and had a higher risk of dropout. The obsessive‐compulsive tendency was associated with higher grade‐point average, faster study progress, and higher retention rates and effects were still visible while controlling for known predictors (high school grades, Conscientiousness). Contrary to our expectations, we found no evidence for inverted U‐shaped relationships.
Conclusions: We used the compound technique for aberrant tendencies based on the FFM in the academic context and our findings support the importance of personality‐based psychopathological tendencies for academic success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-216
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • aberrant personality tendencies
  • academic success
  • longitudinal validation
  • STEM students
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder/physiopathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality/classification
  • Engineering/education
  • Universities
  • Young Adult
  • Academic Success
  • Students
  • Adolescent
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder/physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Personality Disorders/physiopathology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Borderline Personality Disorder/physiopathology
  • Compulsive Personality Disorder/physiopathology


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