Does it pay to be nice? Personality and earnings in the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2011


The author examines the relationship between individuals’ personality traits and labor market success in the United Kingdom using data from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS). With longitudinal individuals’ earnings information as well as psychological profile data of respondents specifically from the 2005 wave, he is able to ascertain the extent to which basic traits from the Five Factor Personality Inventory—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—affect wages. Results indicate a positive relationship between openness to experience and wages, but a negative linear relationship between wages and agreeableness, and for females, between wages and neuroticism. Although there is no convincing evidence for an association between extraversion and earnings, there is a nonlinear gradient for conscientiousness. Moreover, there are no joint effects of personality and tenure. The study does support the suggestion that the associations found are causal.

Published in

Industrial and Labor Relations Review

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 64 , p.1 -1





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