Does optimism predict academic performance? Exploring the moderating roles of conscientiousness and gender

Tamar Icekson, Oren Kaplan, Ortal Slobodin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although optimistic expectations often enhance students’ academic performance, they may also lead to academic failure if they are associated with unrealistic convictions of success. The present longitudinal study examined the moderating effects of personality factor conscientiousness and gender on the relationship between dispositional optimism and academic performance. The levels of dispositional optimism and conscientiousness in 175 undergraduate students (123 women, 52 men) were assessed as predictors of their average academic score at the subsequent semester. Multiple hierarchical regressions affirmed the moderating effects of conscientiousness and gender on the relationship between dispositional optimism and academic performance. Post-hoc probing of the interactions showed that high dispositional optimism increased academic performance in women with high conscientiousness but had adverse effects on academic performance of men with low conscientiousness. These findings suggest that high conscientiousness may regulate the adverse effects of high optimism, such as unrealistic expectations and over-confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-647
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Optimism
  • academic performance
  • conscientiousness
  • gender
  • higher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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