The exam will ask you to write about one of three items chosen to represent the five major topics covered in the course.

So, potential topics to study include:

  1. Discussing the facets of a particular domain and how they inform us about personality.
  2. Discussing types of well-being: how they link to personality and how they appear to be distinct.
  3. Discussing the different personality traits (C, persistence, delay discounting, impulsivity) believed to underlie self-control and how they link to accomplishment.
  4. Use Openness as an example of translating from personality to outcomes like creativity, or voting behavior

Being able to demonstrate (by including citations and information) you have read additional important research papers outside the course is very advisable.

For visiting students, if you have not arranged a question with me, here are some ideas you could write on.

  1. Do the 6 facets used in the NEO correctly model the substructure of <pick one of N, E, O, A, or C>?
  2. The HEXACO model of personality: Support and weakness by comparison with the 5FM.
  3. Why are Openness and Intelligence correlated?
  4. What is the difference between openness and intelligence?
  5. What is the best 5FM model of Psychopathy? What are its limits?
  6. What is the external correlates (work, relationships etc.) of conscientiousness?
  7. How does personality create or interact with values? Give an example.

Revision Notes!


  1. Can you clarify my thoughts on Sell' (2009) and the relation of anger to success/attainment. As the article states "anger functions to orchestrate behaviour incentivising the target to recalibrate upwards the weight they put on the welfare of the angry individual" and they found that strong men and attractive women were more anger prone. Does this mean that "successful people" (eg. strong and attractive people) engage in undesirable negative emotions more frequently, or that sucessful people that are often angry have conflicts resolved in their favour more frequently?
    • The theory is that (for young people at least) when things that "should" go your way are not, the alternatives are accepting this or confronting it. If so, then only confronters can have the resolution go their way. And so people who are high status will get angry more often, AND be more successful. An ancillary idea (supported by a paper that replicated this aggression effect only in students, not adults) is that in young people (but not more mature people), confrontation involves offering to fight. Of course there might be other ways to achieve status recognition (coalition formation etc).
  2. Is it the case that psychopathy is an "unsuccessful" trait? It is characterized by impulsive and unconcientious behaviour (which has previously been negatively associated with attainment/success).
    • So, we don't assume things, we test them. But conscientious achievement theory predicts that you are right: The low C of psychopaths should see them with lower average earnings/status. That doesn't rule-out exceptions, which, given human belief formation, might dominate over the more common failed-psychopath in our minds.