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Exploring Similarities and Differences in Big 5 Personality Traits of Students’ Declared University Major at a Regional U.S.A. University

Author Details ( * ) denotes Corresponding author

1. Andy Bertsch, Professor, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
2. James Ondracek, Professor, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
3. * Mohammad Saeed, Former Professor, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States (
4. Josh Hulm, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
5. Derek Borud, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
6. Moriah McCloud, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
7. Jessica Cushing, Minot State University, North Dakota, United States
8. Li Jisheng, Universiti Tun Abdul Raza, Malaysia

Purpose: The study aims to investigate how the five dimensions of personality affect university students’ choice of major. 
Design/Methodology/Approach: Big Five Inventory (BFI) was adopted with total 20 questions for the five dimensions. Through Convenience sampling, students were chosen from the departments of Criminal Justice, Nursing, Accounting, and Elementary Education. A t-test determined statistical differences by comparing the responses across various demographic categories.
Findings: The results showed diverse findings about the Big Five Personality Dimensions and the choice of major. Female students were more conscientious, agreeable, and neurotic than male students. However, no significant difference was found in the openness to experience or extraversion dimension. Similarly, no remarkable difference is found among various age categories. Junior students were more agreeable than the senior students. Students with better academic performance were more conscientious and neurotic than others. Students taking more credits were more neurotic. Students showing childhood interests were found to be more open towards new experiences. Students of various majors also demonstrated different personality dimensions. 
Research Limitations: Future research may explore the possibility of using the complete instrument of BFI. This research limited its sampling to juniors and seniors only, which may not reflect the total student population. 
Managerial Implications: This study offered insights about the association of students’ personality traits with their choice of major. The results can be taken as reference for higher learning institutions to select their prospective students and for students to choose their majors in certain institutions. 
Originality/Value: Future researchers may research and generalize findings beyond the current parameters of this study.


Personality traits; Choice of major; University students; Big five; Big five inventory

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