Are cognitive ability and conscientiousness really more important for educational attainment than SES? A replication and extension of O‘Connell and Marks (2022)
21 Pages Posted: 6 May 2022
Date Written: May 2, 2022
Explaining which factors influence educational attainment is a highly relevant topic in disciplines like psychology and sociology. While in the past especially parental socioeconomic status (SES) has been seen as the most relevant factor, newer studies put psychological aspects such as personality traits and cognitive ability into focus. A recent study by O‘Connell and Marks (2022) using British data concludes that these factors are much better able at explaining educational attainment (school grades) than SES. This study is replicated and extended using German NEPS data (N = 4,607). By utilizing dominance analysis, which goes beyond the original study, it can be demonstrated that the core findings are robust and the marginal share of explained variance is larger for cognitive ability and personality traits (both about 5%) than for SES (about 2.3%). Track placement has little influence on attainment (less than 1%). However, track placement itself depends to a large extent on SES and cognitive ability (both around 12 %) but much less so on personality traits (less than 1%). These findings successfully corroborate and extend the original study.
Keywords: SES, cognitive ability, educational attainment, replication, German secondary education, dominance analysis
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