Individual Differences in Students' Preferences for Lecturers ...

2 downloads 0 Views 110KB Size Report
traits and academic exam performance. European Journal of. Personality, 17, 237–250. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Furnham, A., Dissou, G., & Heaven, P. (2005).
A. Furnham & T. Chamorro -Premuzic: Journal Stud of Individual ents’ Preferences Differences © 2005for Hogrefe 2005; Lecturers’ Vol. & Huber 26(4):176–184 Personalities Publishers

Individual Differences in Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities Adrian Furnham1 and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic2 1

Department of Psychology, University College London, UK Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK


Abstract. This study examines the relationship between students’ personality and intelligence scores with their preferences for the personality profile of their lecturers. Student ratings (N = 136) of 30 lecturer trait characteristics were coded into an internally reliable Big Five taxonomy (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Descriptive statistics showed that, overall, students tended to prefer conscientious, open, and stable lecturers, though correlations revealed that these preferences were largely a function of students’ own personality traits. Thus, open students preferred open lecturers, while agreeable students preferred agreeable lecturers. There was evidence of a similarity effect for both Agreeableness and Openness. In addition, less intelligent students were more likely to prefer agreeable lecturers than their more intelligent counterparts were. A series of regressions showed that individual differences are particularly good predictors of preferences for agreeable lecturers, and modest, albeit significant, predictors of preferences for open and neurotic lecturers. Educational and vocational implications are considered. Keywords: personality, academic performance, intelligence, preferred lecturers

Within the individual differences literature in educational psychology there is an extensive body of studies on preferences for specific educational institutions, courses, and teaching styles (Zhang, 2004a,b). Indeed, it could be argued that the whole of vocational psychology is predicated on the premise that students and scholars seek out, and thrive in, particular educational environments (Furnham 2001; Holland, 1997). Hence, there have been attempts to categorize both individuals and environments, thereafter, devising measures of both, so that indices of fit may be determined. There is, therefore, a longstanding belief that matching preferences and styles leads to particularly desirable educational and work outcomes (Clarkus, O’Toole, & Wetzel, 1985; Doyle & Rutherford, 1984; Zhang, 2004a,b; Zhenhuyi, 2001). This study looks at students’ personality and intelligence as predictors of preference for personality traits in lecturers. There has been a renewed interest in personality and cognitive ability correlates of academic success (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2003a,b; Farsides & Woodfield, 2003; Lounsbury et al., 2003; Rindermann & Neubauer, 2001). It seems that personality variables and cognitive ability variables together may account for between 20–40% of the variance in academic success as measured by examination marks. However, the correlaJournal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184 DOI 10.1027/1614-0001.26.4.176

tion between personality traits (specifically Openness, Neuroticism, and Conscientiousness) tends to be significant but modest in the range of r = .10 to r = .25. However, the educational, individual difference, and vocational psychology literature has considered a great number of issues around the concept of preference. Thus, there is literature on the relationship between students’ personality and ability and their: (a) choice of learning institutions (type of school, university); (b) choice of course, discipline, subject (e.g., arts vs. science); (c) choice of teaching style/approach; and (d) choice of assessment method. This study aims to examine an as yet neglected area: students’ preference for the personality of their teachers. There is an extensive literature on personality and values on correlates of choice of educational institution (Argyle, Furnham, & Graham, 1981). Stern, Stein, and Bloom (1956) showed that authoritarians preferred to go to military academies rather than to (liberal) universities. There seems to be some evidence of a similarity rather than a contrast effect in that people seem to like people who are similar to them. Hence, extraverted students presumably prefer extraverted lecturers, open students open lecturers, etc. There has been a very longstanding interest in person© 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

ality and ability predictors of school and university course, discipline, or subject (Corulla & Coghill, 1991; Eysenck & Cookson, 1969). One of the earliest and most interesting works in this area was that of Hudson (1974), who distinguished between convergent and divergent thinking styles as explaining preference for, and success in, either arts or science subjects. This work has continued and is mainly concerned with demonstrating differences in the personalities of students and teachers in different university faculties (Harris, 1993; Kline & Lapham, 1992). These studies continue to be done using the Big Five personality dimensions (Rubenstein, 2005), though this area tends to investigate cognitive abilities rather than traits. In most countries, university programs assess students’ learning through different ways, such as traditional essay-type; timed written exams; multiple-choice; oral (viva voce); multiple course work exercises; dissertations (supervised projects), and group work where the entire group and individuals receive the same or a unique mark, respectively. Furnham and Chamorro-Premuzic (2005) looked at the relationship between preference for examination assessment methods, personalities, intelligence, and gender. Results replicated significant and negative associations between Neuroticism and preference for both essay-type and oral exams. Extraversion was positively and significantly associated with preference for oral exams, while Conscientiousness was positively and significantly related to preference for continuous assessment and dissertations. On the other hand, IQ was positively and significantly related to preference for multiple-choice exams. Chamorro-Premuzic et al. (2005) replicated and extended this study with an Australian sample. Reliability analysis showed that participants tended to have consistent attitudes toward assessment methods across disciplines (e.g., History, Biology, Psychology). When these preferences were examined with regard to individual differences in personality, correlations revealed significant associations between three of the Big Five personality dimensions and attitudes toward assessment methods. Neuroticism was negatively correlated with both preference for an oral exam and continuous assessment. Extraversion and Openness to Experience were both positively correlated with preference for oral examinations, and Openness was also significantly and negatively related to preference for multiple-choice exams. On the other hand, Agreeableness and Extraversion were both significantly and positively related to preference for group work. A series of hierarchical regressions examined the predictability of preferences for assessment methods by the Big Five factors as well as self-assessed intelligence and gender. They showed that personality traits are significant predictors of preference for oral exams and © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers


group work, even when gender and self-assessed intelligence are considered. There are a few studies relevant to the present study (Robinson, 1995), namely the choice of teacher or lecturer as a function of the individual difference profile of the student. Rothman et al. (2000) looked at the personality of students and lecturers of pharmacy to see if they were related to academic performance. They found students with a strong preference for perceiving types (in the Jungian sense), and extraverts had lower academic performance and showed slower advancement through their course. The extensive literature on fit and style preference would suggest that there would be evidence of the similarity hypothesis, i.e., it is predicted that there will be significant positive correlations between the Big Five personality dimensions of individual students and the preferred rated traits of their lecturers.

Method Participants In all, 136 students volunteered to take part in this study. There were 98 females and 38 males. Their mean age was 20.54 years (SD = 4.57 years). They were from different countries and university disciplines, all taking an introductory open course in psychology. All students were fluent or native English speakers.

Measures All students completed the following four measures: 1. What do you look for in a lecturer? (Furnham, 2003). This was a 30-item scale derived from the work of Rushton et al. (1987) looking at the personality characteristics associated with high productivity in university teachers. It consisted of 30 characteristics with trait definitions, which participants had to rate. Most were derived from Rushton et al. (1987), but others were deleted or added in the pilot work. The instructions read: “When lecturers get feedback from students they are often surprised by the variability in response. Some students clearly liked the content, style, pace, etc. of the lecturer, while others did not. This brief questionnaire looks at the sort of characteristics you most (and least) want in your lecturers. We want you to think of someone who lectures, gives tutorials, or supervises projects. The list below is in fact based on a Canadian study that looked at the personality characteristics associJournal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184


A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

ated with lecturers. Your task is to indicate the extent to which you would like your lecturers to have, or not to have, these characteristics. Show your preference by completing the 11-point scale. The more you want that characteristic in your lecturers, the higher the positive score (i.e., +4, +5). While the more you don’t want those characteristics the higher you circle a negative score (i.e., –4, –5). The middle score (0) means this is not important or relevant to you.” These numbers were then transferred into an 11-point scale, where 1 represented low preference or dislike and 11 high preference or like. 2. The Wonderlic Personnel Test (Wonderlic, 1992). This 50-item test can be administered in 12 minutes and measures general intelligence (IQ). Scores can range from 0 to 50. Items include word and number comparisons, disarranged sentences, serial analysis of geometric figures, and story problems that require mathematical and logical solutions. The test has impressive norms and correlates very highly (r = .92) with the WAIS-R. Norms based on 118,549 Americans note that the mode and the median are 21 with a SD = 7.12. Previous studies using this test on British university students indicate that, whereas they tend to score about one standard deviation above the mean, there is a wide and normal distribution of scores (Furnham & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2004a,b). 3. The Baddeley Reasoning Test (Baddeley, 1968). This 60-item test can be administered in 3 minutes and measures gf through logical reasoning. Scores can range from 0 to 60. Each item is presented in the form of a grammatical transformation that has to be answered with “true”/“false,” e.g.: “A precedes B-AB” (true), or “A does not follow B-BA” (false). The test has been employed previously in several studies to obtain a quick and reliable indicator of people’s intellectual ability. Scores for populations such as this tend to have a mode of around 26–28 points. 4. The Neo Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO-PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992). This 240-item nontimed questionnaire measures 30 primary personality traits and their higher order Big Five personality factors, i.e., Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Items involve questions about typical behaviors or reactions, which are answered on a five-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The manual shows impressive indices of reliability and validity.

Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184

Procedure Participants were tested simultaneously in a large lecture theater in the presence of five examiners who ensured the tests were appropriately completed. The testing was part of an undergraduate laboratory study about psychometric testing. Participants were asked to be as accurate and honest as possible and told that they would receive full feedback on their tests. They were also asked to do their best on the intelligence tests, called “cognitive ability” tests. There is every reason to suspect that participants were motivated to do well in the ability tests, and that they were honest in their answers in the personality measure.

Results Coding of Lecturers’ Personality Traits into Big Five Taxonomy Table 1 reports the descriptive statistics (arithmetic mean and SD) for all descriptors of lecturers’ personality. As can be seen, the matrix is tabulated according to the Big Five personality traits, namely Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. For instance, the far left column comprises the adjectives and descriptors that fall into the domain of Neuroticism (Emotional Stability), the far right column includes items that fall into the domain of Conscientiousness, and so forth. This classification was based on three different criteria, namely: (a) the theoretical similarity between each descriptor and the original Big Five adjective checklist; (b) six independent judges (which included both experts and lay individuals who were presented with a short synopsis of the Big Five manual section that describes the five factors of personality); and (c) reliability analysis of each scale, applying Cronbach’s α. All Cronbach’s α parameters are reported in Table 2; as can be seen, the internal consistency of other-ratings showed adequate reliability and was practically in the region of the α values for self-ratings (which used the original 240-item version of the NEOPI-R). Thus, further analysis was based on the five-factor classification of lecturers’ personalities, which is consistent with the idea that the Big Five represent a universal taxonomy for classifying individual differences in thought, emotionality, and behavior, enabling different researchers to establish comparisons between studies and collect similar data on individual differences (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Matthews, 1997; Matthews & Deary, 1998). © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities


Table 1. Aspects of lecturer’s personalities preferred by students (and higher order factors: the Big Five). N





Meek (mild mannered; Neurotic (a worrier; over- Sociable (friendly, outgo- Independent (avoids reing, enjoys being with peo- straints; enjoys being unat- subservient) ly emotional; anxious, tached) ple) moody, often depressed)

Ambitious (aspiring to accomplish difficult tasks; striving, competitive)

M = 3.12 (SD = 2.75)

M = 9.88 (SD = 1.35)

M = 8.41 (SD = 1.71)

Compulsive (meticulous, perfectionist, concerned with details)

Seeks definitiveness (disChangeable (flexible, rest- Aggressive (argumentaDominant (attempts to likes ambiguity or uncercontrol environment; force- less; likes new and differ- tive, threatening; enjoys combat and argument) (R) tainty in information; ent experiences) ful, decisive) wants all questions answered completely)

M = 6.38 (SD = 2.79)

M = 5.73 (SD = 2.77)

Anxious (tense, nervous, uneasy)

Supportive (gives sympa- Enduring (willing to work Impulsive (spontaneous, Aesthetically sensitive hasty, impetuous, uninhibit- (sensitive to sounds, sights, thy and comfort; helpful, long hours; persevering, steadfast, unrelenting) indulgent) tastes, smells) ed)

M = 3.04 (SD = 2.62)

M = 5.96 (SD = 2.80)

M = 7.29 (SD = 1.79)

M = 7.92 (SD = 2.07)

M = 6.61 (SD = 2.04)

M = 5.00 (SD = 2.80)

After Reversed M = 6.25 (SD = 2.21)

M = 9.35 (SD = 1.36)

M = 7.19 (SD = 2.77)

M = 8.53 (SD = 2.01)

Intellectually curious Seeks help and advice (de- Extraverted (has many friends; craves excitement; (seeks understanding; resires and needs support, fond of practical jokes; is flective, intellectual) protection, love, advice) carefree, easygoing, optimistic)

Moral (high ethical stan- Harm-avoiding (careful, dards, uncorrupt, shows no cautious, pain-avoidant) favoritism)

M = 5.29 (SD = 2.60)

M = 8.20 (SD = 2.61)

M = 7.51 (SD = 2.79)

M = 8.46 (SD = 2.14)

M = 6.36 (SD = 2.34)

Approval-seeking (desires Fun loving (playful, easy- Intelligent (bright, quick, to be held in high esteem; going, light-hearted; does clever) obliging, agreeable) many things “just for fun”)

Orderly (neat; organized, dislikes clutter, confusion, lack of organization)

M = 6.08 (SD = 2.27)

M = 9.68 (SD = 2.68)

M = 8.74 (SD = 2.19)

Defensive (suspicious, guarded, touchy)

M = 8.46 (SD = 1.94)

Liberal (progressive, seeks change, modern, adaptable)

Shows leadership (takes initiative and responsibility for getting things done)

M = 2.91 (SD = 1.88)

M = 9.05 (SD = 1.61)

M = 9.65 (SD = 1.14)

Attention-seeking (enjoys being conspicuous, dramatic, colorful)

Authoritarian (rigid, inflexible, dogmatic, opinionated) (R)

Objective (just, fair, free of bias)

M = 7.85 (SD = 2.21)

After Reversed M = 7.91 (SD = 2.77)

M = 9.33 (SD = 2.07)

Descriptive Statistics of Students’ Preferred Personality Traits in Lecturers As shown in Table 1, the highest means for preferred personality attributes of the lecturers were for “sociable” (M = 9.88, SD = 1.35), followed by “intelligent” (M = 9.68, SD = 2.68), “shows leadership” (M = 9.65, SD = 1.14), “supportive” (M = 9.35, SD = 1.36), “objective” (M = 9.33, SD = 2.07), and “liberal” (M = 9.05, SD = 1.61). The lowest means were recorded for “defensive” (M = 2.91, SD = 1.88), “anxious” (M = 3.04, SD = 2.62), and “neurotic” (M = 3.12, SD = 2.75), all components of the broad Neuroticism trait. The lowest SDs were computed for “shows leadership” (1.14), “sociable” (1.35), “supportive” (1.36), “liberal” (1.61), “ambitious” (1.71), “independent” (1.79), “defensive” (1.88), and “fun loving” (1.94), while the highest SDs were computed for “impulsive” (2.80), “meek” (2.80), “compulsive” (2.79), © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

“extraverted” (2.79), “dominant” (2.77), “authoritarian” (2.77), “seeks definitiveness” (2.77), “neurotic” (2.75), “intelligent” (2.68), “anxious” (2.62), and “seeks help and advice” (2.60). There is some evidence of both ceiling and floor effects indicating that some preferences are fairly strong, and that all students tend to be like/prefer some traits (i.e., supportive, objective) while disliking others (defensive, anxious). This is not a surprising or novel finding. Table 2 reports the means, SDs, ranges, and α coefficients for the higher order traits and cognitive ability scores of students, and the preferred estimated higher order personality traits of lecturers. It is evident from the descriptive statistics that students tended to prefer lecturers with higher Conscientiousness (weighted M = 8.28) and Openness (weighted M = 8.11), and lower Neuroticism (weighted M = 4.95). Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184


A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

Table 2. Descriptive statistics for students’ personality and intelligence, and lecturers’ preferred personalities. α


















































































Weighted mean



Note. N = 136. Weighted mean = Mean/number of descriptors in the scale as Big Five scales for lecturers’ personalities did not contain uniform number of items, but ranged from 4 to 7, as shown in Table 1; N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion, O = Openness, A = Agreeableness, C = Conscientiousness, gf = fluid intelligence, IQ = general intelligence; Lecturers’ personality scores were obtained through students’ ratings: the higher the score, the more students preferred that type of personality. Number of items per factor was variable.

Students’ Personality Correlates of their Preferred Lecturers’ Personality Traits Next, a series of bivariate correlations were conducted on the data to examine the relationship between students’ individual differences and their preferences for lecturers’ personality. Pearson’s r-coefficients are reported in Table 3. As shown in this table, there were several significant correlations between students’ (psychometrically selfreported) and lecturers’ (other-preferred) personality traits; furthermore, there were also statistically significant associations between students’ (psychometrically measured) cognitive ability and their preferred personality characteristics in lecturers. Students’ Extraversion scores were negatively and significantly correlated with their preference for neurotic lecturers (r = –.19, p < .05). Thus, extraverted students preferred stable rather than neurotic lecturers and vice-versa. Students’ Extraversion scores were also positively and significantly correlated with preferences for open lecturers (r = .26, p < .01), and negatively and significantly correlated with preferences for agreeable lecturers (r = –.22, p < .05). Thus, extraverted students also preferred lecturers who were open and disagreeable and vice-versa. Students’ Openness scores were significantly and positively correlated with preferences for open lecturers (r = .27, p < .01); thus, open students preferred open lecturers and vice-versa. Students’ Agreeableness scores correlated significantly and positively with preferences for agreeable lecturers (r = .28, p < .01), indicating that agreeable students tended to Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184

prefer agreeable lecturers, and vice-versa. There was also a modest but significant positive correlation between students’ Conscientiousness and their preference for agreeable lecturers (r = .18, p < .05), showing that conscientious students tended to prefer agreeable lecturers and vice-versa. Thus, correlations between students’ personality traits and their preference for lecturers’ personality suggest that students tend to prefer lecturers with personality characteristics similar to theirs.

Students’ Ability Correlates of their Preferred Lecturers’ Personality Traits Table 3 also reports the correlations between students’ ability scores and their preferences for lecturers’ personality traits. As shown in this table, there was a negative and significant correlation between students’ fluid intelligence scores (gf) and preferences for neurotic – rather than emotionally stable – lecturers (r = –.23, p < .01). Thus, able students were more likely to prefer stable lecturers and vice-versa. Students with higher gf scores also tended to prefer lecturers who were disagreeable and vice-versa (r = –.17, p < .05). The negative correlation between students’ cognitive ability and preferences for disagreeable lecturers was substantially higher when students’ IQ – rather than gf – was measured (r = –.40, p < .01). In fact, this was the highest correlation between students’ individual differences and preferences for lecturers’ personality characteristics. © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities


Table 3. Correlations of students’ gender, personality, and intelligence with preferred personalities of lecturers. Lecturers’ N Lecturers’ N

Lecturers’ E

.01 –

Lecturers’ O .30**






Lecturers’ O


Lecturers’ A


Lecturers’ C




Students’ N Students’ E Students’ O



Students’ A




–.05 .23**

Lecturers’ C


Lecturers’ E


Lecturers’ A

–.28** – .04












.16 – .03











Students’ C






Students’ gf






Students’ IQ






Note. N = 136. **p < .01, *p < .05, N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion, O = Openness, A = Agreeableness, C = Conscientiousness, gf = fluid intelligence, IQ = general intelligence; gender coded 1 = male, 2 = female. Coefficients are bivariate Pearson’s Product Moment correlations. Table 4. Hierarchical multiple regression: students’ personality, intelligence, and gender as predictors of preference for lecturers’ personality.


N E O A C gf IQ

N E O A C gf IQ Gender

N st. β t –.09 1.02 –.28 2.69** .06 .55 .05 .58 .14 1.47 AdjR2.04 F(5, 117) = 1.97 –.11 1.16 –.26 2.51* .08 .82 .04 .40 .10 1.08 –.15 1.53 –.07 .71 AdjR2.06 F(7, 115) = 2.82* –.11 1.15 –.29 2.49* .08 .81 .03 .35 .10 1.07 –.15 1.52 –.07 .62 .01 .08 AdjR2.05 F(8, 114) = .84

E st. β t .06 .64 .16 1.56 –.01 .17 –.04 .48 –.00 .07 AdjR2.01 F(5, 117) = .61 .04 .50 .16 .56 –.01 .11 –.05 .59 –.01 .14 .01 .13 –.07 .68 AdjR2.03 F(7, 115) = .52 .06 .67 .17 1.63 –.02 .18 –.02 .22 –.03 .34 .03 .28 –.12 1.06 –.12 1.10 2 AdjR .02 F(8, 114) = .63

Lecturers’ O st. β t –.02 .26 .18 1.82 .18 1.80 –.02 .25 –.09 .98 AdjR2.06 F(5, 117) = 2.50* –.01 .19 .18 1.78 .17 1.71 –.01 .17 –.08 .89 .01 .11 .03 .37 AdjR2.04 F(7, 115) = 1.79 –.01 .17 .18 1.78 .17 1.70 –.01 .13 –.09 .89 .01 .13 .03 .30 –.01 .11 2 AdjR .03 F(8, 114) = 1.56

A st. β t .02 .33 –.26 2.76** –.07 .78 .32 3.58** .16 1.80 AdjR2.15 F(5, 117) = 5.19** –.03 .40 –.25 2.71** –.04 .47 .26 3.02** .12 1.45 .03 .35 –.33 3.63** AdjR2.23 F(7, 115) = 6.32** –.04 .53 –.25 2.75** –.03 .41 .23 2.62** .13 1.58 .02 .24 –.30 3.05** .07 .81 2 AdjR .23 F(8, 114) = 5.59**

C st. β t .02 .27 –.01 .12 –.09 .84 –.06 .70 .11 1.17 AdjR2.01 F(5, 117) = .58 .03 .30 –.01 .11 –.09 .82 –.06 .65 .11 1.14 –.01 .17 .02 .23 AdjR2.03 F(7, 115) = .42 .01 .10 –.02 .18 –.08 .76 –.10 .98 .13 1.34 –.03 .34 .07 .67 .12 1.16 2 AdjR .03 F(8, 114) = .54

Note. N = 136. **p < .01, *p < .05, N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion, O = Openness, A = Agreeableness, C = Conscientiousness, gf = fluid intelligence, IQ = general intelligence; gender coded 1 = male, 2 = female. © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184


A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

Predicting Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities by Students’ Individual Differences Finally, as shown in Table 4, a series of hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted on the data to test whether, and to what extent, individual differences and gender could predict preferences for lecturers’ personality characteristics. Overall, five series of regressions were conducted on each of the preferred Big Five traits as criterion. Thus, we examined whether students’ personality traits (Block 1), together with students’ cognitive ability scores (Block 2), and their gender (Block 3), would significantly predict preferences for neurotic, extraverted, open, agreeable, and conscientious lecturers. Students’ personality scores were significant predictors of preferences for open, F(5, 117) = 2.50, p < .05), and agreeable, F(5, 117) = 5.19, p < .01) lecturers, accounting for 6% and 15% of the variance, respectively. Extraversion (β = –.26, t = 2.76, p < .01) and Agreeableness (β = .32, t = 3.58, p < .01) were significant predictors of preference for agreeable lecturers. When cognitive ability scores where included in the regressions, individual differences were also significant predictors of preferences for neurotic lecturers, F(7, 115) = 2.82, p < .05), accounting for 6% of the variance; Extraversion was the only significant predictor in this model (β = –.26, t = 2.51, p < .05). In addition, personality and intelligence accounted for 23% of the variance in preferences for agreeable lecturers, F(7, 115) = 6.32, p < .01), with Extraversion (β = –.25, t = 2.71, p < .01) and IQ scores (β = –.33, t = 3.63, p < .01) as significant predictors in the model. Thus, cognitive ability accounted for an additional 8% of the variance in preference for agreeable lecturers (than only personality scores). When gender was added to the regressions in Block 3, there was little change in the results, though the regression onto preferences for neurotic lecturers was no longer significant (thus, gender was a suppressor in this model).

Discussion Most students hold strong views about their lecturers, which are manifest in the choice (and avoidance) of courses as well as in their course appraisal forms. The personality of the lecturer inevitably effects (in part) how they prepare and deliver lectures, tutorials, and other classes. They tend to get a reputation for their lecturing style, which is presumably a function of their ability, experience, and personality. Despite some being more or less popular than others, there remain noticeable individJournal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184

ual differences in students’ preference for, and rating of, both individual lecturers and the course they teach. In this study we found that preferred personality traits of lecturers could be parsimoniously and reliably classified in terms of the Big Five personality traits. This may be expected for various reasons including the many lexical studies on the structure of personality as well as the fact that the questionnaire was based on Jackson’s Personality Research Form, which has been shown to measure the Big Five. The results showed that students preferred highly conscientious, open, stable, extraverted, and agreeable lecturers. It is not difficult to explain why: Conscientiousness is associated with being orderly, clear, hard-working, and objective; openness with intelligence, liberalism, and creativity; stability with low anxiety, depression, and attention seeking. Students prefer lecturers who are emotionally adjusted, clever, and hard-working. This study concentrated on preference for lecturers, but it is possible that the results would be similar when rating preference for coworkers, friends, and even spouses. That is, this represents one type of preference for the personality of another person which generalizes to many other sorts of personal relationships. It would, of course, be equally interesting to look at what sort of students lecturers prefer. Indeed these may be very similar to the above. Lecturers may prefer extraverts over introverts (particularly if they teach in small groups); stable over unstable (in view of the many special needs and requests of the latter), and conscientious over less conscientious students (because hard work leads to academic success) (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2002). However, what is most innovative and interesting in this research is the relationship between the psychometrically assessed personality and ability of students and derived preferred traits in their lecturers. Open students wanted open lecturers, agreeable student agreeable lecturers, and extraverted students extraverted lecturers. This is clear evidence of the similarity hypothesis much quoted in the friendship formation literature (Furnham, 1989). It was perhaps surprising that the correlations for Neuroticism and Conscientiousness were not significant. Indeed, all the correlations for students’ Neuroticism were nonsignificant. It was interesting to note that intelligence was associated with a dislike of neurotic and particularly agreeable lecturers. Possibly bright students are looking for other specific characteristics. It is possible that bright students see agreeable lecturers as too lenient and empathic and willing to either set easier tasks or help less talented students. In this sense they may believe that there is no particular advantage to them being bright. Most of the correlations were, however, modest; the © 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

most significant being between students’ overall IQ and their preference for disagreeable lecturers (r = .40). The final regressions are, however, the most important part of the paper. They show quite clearly that it is only one of the Big Five lecturer traits that is clearly and systematically related to the students’ personality and intelligence. There was some evidence that introversion and extraversion in the students had a small effect on preference for (or indeed avoidance of) neurotic lecturers. It appeared that introverts were more tolerant of neurotic lecturers than extraverts. None of the personality or cognitive ability factors predicted preferences for extraverted, open, or conscientious lecturers, i.e., although there was, of course, variability in their preferences, none of the individual difference factors measured predicted the preferences on these factors. However, the one factor that showed consistent finding was Agreeableness. Personality traits and intelligence accounted for nearly a quarter of the variance. The results showed that less intelligent (as measured by the Wonderlic Scale), agreeable introverts showed preferences for agreeable lecturers. The four traits that made up the agreeable scale may in part explain these preferences: supportive, moral, nonaggressive, and meek. It could be that – while intelligent students would favor both moral and supportive facets of agreeableness in lecturers – they would be less attracted by their meek nonaggressiveness. Possibly intelligent students like and admire assertive lecturers who enjoy argument, debate, and combative discussions. They may prefer the sometimes dramatic and aggressive seminar or colloquium debate style of inquisition that is popular at some universities. Clearly agreeable students prefer people like themselves, though it is not always clear why introverts have a preference to agreeable lecturers. This study has shown that just as there are systematic and predictable individual difference factor preferences for type of educational institutions, course, and assessment method, so there are systematic preferences for particular personality traits in lecturers. This study may have been improved by having students actually rate the 30 Big-Five facets rather than the scale used by Rushton et al. (1987). Further, it would be highly desirable to validate this study by looking at the actual personality scores of highly (and poorly) rated lecturers while covarying what they were teaching. In this sense it would be a test of actual students’ personality scores with their ratings of preference/popularity of lecturers whose actual scores were known. There were inevitable limitations in this study. The ratio of females to males was too high. Almost 75% of the participants were female, and there was some evidence of gender differences in preference. In future stud© 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers


ies it would be better to have a sample better balanced by gender and to specifically investigate sex differences. It would also have been desirable to have an observer’s measure of the Big Five rather than the one that was used in this study, which may have reduced the skew in the data. Equally it would have been interesting to examine if participants’ preferences for certain personality traits in their lecturers generalize to preferences for personality traits in all those that they come into contact with (i.e., friends, partners). Studies such as this one have implications for vocational guidance as well as selection. It may be that schools and universities pay more attention to the personality traits of lecturers. Rushton et al. (1987) found that the factors that seemed best to predict teaching effectiveness were “liberal,” “extraverted,” “sociable,” and “supportive.” However, it was “ambitious,” “enduring,” and “seeks definitiveness” (all Conscientious traits) that seemed to be the best predictors of research. Of course, student preference does not necessarily equate with teacher style or effectiveness. As students have more and more choice as to which courses to study the question remains open as to whether those decisions are based primarily on the topic, who teaches it, or indeed a combination of the two. The essentially modest size of the correlations in this study would indicate that while lecturers’ personalities are taken into consideration in course choice, there are other and more powerful factors at work.

References Baddeley, A. (1968). A 3-min reasoning test based on grammatical transformation. Psychonomic Science, 10, 341–347. Argyle, M., Furnham, A., & Graham, J. (1981). Social situations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2002). Neuroticism and “special treatment” in university examinations. Social Behaviour and Personality, 30, 807–812. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2003a). Personality predicts academic performance: Evidence from two longitudinal university samples. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 319–338. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2003b). Personality traits and academic exam performance. European Journal of Personality, 17, 237–250. Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Furnham, A., Dissou, G., & Heaven, P. (2005). Personality and preferences for academic assessment. Learning and Individual Differences, 15, 246–255. Clarkus, R., O’Toole, D., & Wetzel, J. (1985). Linking teacher and student learning styles with student achievement and attitudes. Economic Education, 2, 111–120. Corulla, W., & Coghill, K. (1991). Can educational streaming be linked to personality? A possible link between extraversion, Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184


A. Furnham & T. Chamorro-Premuzic: Students’ Preferences for Lecturers’ Personalities

neuroticism, psychoticism, and choice of subjects. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 367–373. Costa, P., & McCrae, R. (1992). The five factor model of personality and its relevance to personality disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 6, 343–359. Doyle, W., & Rutherford, B. (1984). Classroom research on matching learning and teaching styles. Theory into Practice, 23, 20–25. Eysenck, H.J., & Cookson, D. (1969). Personality in primary school children, ability and achievement. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 39, 123–130. Farsides, T., & Woodfield, R. (2003). Individual differences and undergraduate success. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 1225–1243. Furnham, A. (1989). Friendship and personality development. In R. Porter & S. Tomaselli (Eds.), The dialectics of friendship (pp. 92–110). London: Routledge. Furnham, A. (2001). Vocational preference and P-O fit. Applied Psychology, 50, 5–29. Furnham, A. (2003). What do you look for in a lecturer? Unpublished questionnaire, University College, London, UK. Furnham, A., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2004a). Personality and intelligence as predictors of statistics examination grades. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1013–1022. Furnham, A., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2004b). Personality, psychometric intelligence, and art judgment. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 705–715. Furnham, A., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2005). Individual differences and beliefs associated with preference for university assessment methods. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 1–28. Harris, J. (1993). Personalities of students in three faculties. Personality and Individual Differences, 15, 351–352. Holland, J. (1997). Making vocational choices (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Hudson, L. (1974). Contrary imaginations. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Jackson, D. (1984). Personality research form manual (3rd ed.). Port Huron, MI: Research Psychologists Press. Kline, P., & Lapham, S. (1992). Personality and faculty in British Universities. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 855–857. Lounsbury, J., Sundstrom, E., Loveland, J., & Gibson, L. (2003). Intelligence, Big Five personality traits, and work drive as predictors of course grade. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 1231–1239.

Journal of Individual Differences 2005; Vol. 26(4):176–184

Matthews, G., & Deary, I.J. (1998). Personality traits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Matthews, G. (1997). The Big Five as a framework for personality assessment. In N. Anderson & P. Herriot (Eds.), International handbook of selection and appraisal (2nd ed., pp. 175–200). London: Wiley. Rindermann, H., & Neubauer, A. (2001). The influence of personality on three aspects of cognitive performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 829–847. Robinson, D. (1995). A critical analysis of students’ teacher ratings. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 945–947. Rothman, S., Basson, W., & Rothman, J. (2000). Personality preference of lecturers and students at a pharmacy school. International Journal of Pharmacy, 8, 6–9 Rubenstein, E. (2005). The Big Five among male and female students of different faculties. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1495–1503. Rushton, J., Murray, H., & Paunonen, S. (1987). Personality characteristics associated with higher research productivity. In D. Jackson & J. Rushton (Eds), Scientific excellence (pp. 129– 148). London: Sage. Stern, G., Stein, M., & Bloom, B. (1956). Methods in personality assessment of human behavior in complex social settings. New York: Free Press. Wonderlic, E. (1992). Wonderlic personnel test. Libertyville, IL: E.F. Wonderlic Inc. Zhang, L.-F. (2004a). Do university students’ thinking styles matter in their preferred teacher approaches? Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1551–1564. Zhang, L.-F. (2004b). Learning approaches and career personality types: Biggs and Holland united. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 65–81. Zhenhuyi, R. (2001). Matching teaching style with learning styles in East Asian contexts. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. 7. (http://itseflj.op).

Address for correspondence: Adrian Furnham Department of Psychology University College London 26 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AP UK E-mail [email protected]

© 2005 Hogrefe & Huber Publishers

Suggest Documents