Case Study Differential Psychology Education Essay

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Being quite emotionally mature from a young age has enabled me to recognize and respond to my emotions reasonably well over the years. I do pay a lot of attention to how I'm feeling as my mood often judges what I will do on a day to day basis. This is reflected in my TMMS score for attention. For example if I'm feeling happy and confident I will quite happily engage fully in social activities or be motivated to complete university work. On the other hand if I'm upset or angry I prefer to spend time alone and quite prefer my own company.

I often have to deal with awkward customers in my work place. Having had three years experience working with the public has enabled me be become more confident in managing irate or unhappy customers. I think this is because I am able to see things from others points of view and recognize other people's emotions which allows me to respond to them before things get out of control. Scoring high on clarity shows that I can identify my own emotional state as well as others.

Displaying my emotions publicly is something that I don't tend to do. I much prefer to keep my emotions hidden and deal with them myself. Often when I'm faced with obstacles, I remember how I faced similar obstacles and overcome them. The Moderately high repair score reflects this ability to be able to regulate my emotions. For example if I am feeling low I know how to pick myself back up, often just by simply re-evaluating what is important and what is not.

Moving away from my family to come to university was a massive step for me. Being from a close nit family means that we spend a lot of time together. As time has gone on I feel that I have defiantly matured emotionally, having successfully got through the transitional period from college to University .

Part B

Table to display results the of the five factor model of personality questionnaire.


My Score

Scale Midpoint





Parameter descriptor






Moderately High






Marginally Low






Marginally Low






Very High

Emt. Stability





Moderately Low

The table above highlights that I am above the mid-scale point for both Openness (39) and agreeableness (43) attributes. I would agree that these two aspects of my personality are probably the strongest as I have a very active imagination and I am also a very trusting and soft hearted person. The other three factors of personality fall below the mid--scale point with emotional stability being the lowest (25).

The score for Openness (39) was within the moderately high parameter. I am always looking for new experiences in life, I enjoy spontaneous adventures and like to constantly challenge myself for example I spent the summer camping in the Australian Outback. I am also quite a curious person. This curiosity has directed me towards wanting to work with criminals as I am interested in the factors which cause people to commit crime.

My score for Conscientiousness was 28. This factor unfortunately highlights some of my weaker points which include being easily distracted and sometimes quite unorganized although I don't like to admit it! Even though I am a determined person I often lack the motivation which enables me to complete tasks promptly. This is something that I am aiming to work on.

The score for Extraversion (29) feel within the marginally low parameter. This score identified me as being more of an introvert rather than an extravert. This I expected as I have a strong sense of self which can make me feel highly self conscious around other people. For example walking into a crowded room full of people I don't know can be quite daunting on occasions. However being an introvert I am a very independent thinker and tend not to sway towards other people's opinions.

My highest and most prominent score was for agreeableness (43) which is regarded as being in the very high parameter. I have quite an optimistic view of human nature and believe that everyone has some good qualities within them. I am a good listen and like to think that I am quite empathetic towards other people. I think this trait will be very helpful for my intended career working with criminals as I tend not to judge people.

My lowest scoring personality trait was emotional stability (25). I do tend to worry too much about things and often get irritated and upset easily

Part C

The two major divisions of differential psychology are personality and intelligence. They are thought to be distinct conceptually and methodologically (Eyseneck & Eyseneck 1985). This essay will outline how personality (FFM) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are useful alongside cognitive abilities or IQ in explaining the process and product of educational performance.

Psychologists who study personality are interested in individual differences and motivational basis of our behaviour. They are interested in the psychological characteristics in which people differ. Allport (1961) defines personality as a dynamic organisation, inside the individual of psychophysical systems that create the person's characteristic patterns of behaviour, thoughts and feelings'. Psychologists, through their research have identified personality characteristics or structures that can be used to explain individual differences in the functioning of human behaviour. The five-factor model (FFM) is best used to explain this, it consists of five traits that supposedly determine ones personality and includes; Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Most of the research carried out on the relationship between personality and educational performance has used the framework of the FFM.

 A number of studies have identified a positive correlation between certain FFM dimensions and academic performance. Research has found that Agreeableness is linked to educational performance by facilitating cooperation with learning processes (De Raad & Schakwenburg 1996). It is thought that this is because students who are high in agreeableness are more likely to comply with teacher's instructions, have higher efforts and tend to stay focust on the learning tasks (Vermetten et al 2001). However Laidra et al (2007) found that agreeableness was an important predictor of educational performance in primary school children but not secondary school students. Studies have indicated that Conscientiousness has the most impact on academic performance (O'Connor & Paunonen 2007, Chamorro- Premuzic & Funham 2008). This impact on educational performance is due to conscientious students being very self disciplined and persistent in their studies, they also tend to have an achievement striving nature. These attitudes possessed by conscientious students consequently have an effect on their studying habits resulting in good grade achievements.

Students who score highly on Extraversion are thought to posses high energy levels and have positive attitudes, this leading to a hunger for learning and understanding. This motivation and positivity subsequently leads to better academic performance (De Radd & Schouwenburg1996). However an argument against the latter view is that extroverts tend to be very social people, other activities may interfere with their studies resulting in lower levels of performance (Eyseneck 1992). Openness to experience is also thought to be linked to academic performance (O'Connor & Paunonen 2007). High scorers tend to have an intellectual curiosity and a wider range of learning techniques i.e critical evaluation. Openness to experience is also moderately correlated to crystallized intelligence, which is known also to correlate positively with academic performance (Ackerman & heggestad 1997).

The relationship between Neuroticism and academic performance is not so clear. Some research supports a negative relationship (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham 2003). Philips (2003) found that students with high neuroticism were less likely to have confidence in their academic abilities and allow negative emotions to impact on their studies. Cognitive abilities may be liked to this trait. It seems to be related to an undirected learning style which is featured by difficulty in processing the material being taught, resulting in poor academic outcomes (Duff et al. 2004). Students who score highly on neuroticism are also more likely to experience examination anxiety which is likely to impair on their outcomes (Chammoro-Premuzic & Furnham 2003).

The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) was originally defined by Salovey &Mayer (1990) as the ability to monitor one's own and others feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide ones thinking and actions. EI is a set of skills people use to read, understand and react appropriately to the emotions of others as well as well as their own. Salovey & Mayer developed a scale which they claimed tested components of the emotional intelligence construct. The Trait Meta Mood Scale (TMMS) aims to measure three cognitive components of EI and consists of: attention to feelings, clarity and repair. Such tests provide researchers with a framework to study emotion- related abilities in student learning. With respect to academic achievement there are mixed findings. Izard et al 2001 found that being able to regognise and label emotions accurately at the age of five predicted later social and academic competence.

Parker et al (2004) conducted an experiment which involved first year university students in Canada completing the EI measure. This data was then matched with student's academic records at the end of the school year. The results showed that academically successful students had a significantly higher score on most of the EI dimensions than less successful students. These results clearly show that emotional intelligence has an important impact on educational performance. This can be said because students who had higher Emotional Intelligence were able to adapt well during the transitional period or process to their new environment, which included making new friends whilst modifying existing relationships. This consequently enabling them to achieve the end product which was performing well academically. However during this study confounding variables such as general intelligence and personality characteristics were not statistically controlled, meaning that the results could have been due to other factors other than EI. J.Parker & C Micheal studied full time students who joined Trent University within two years of leaving high school. For the purpose of the experiment they divided the participants into two groups. The first group consisted of academically successful students (who scored 80% or above) and the second group were unsuccessful students (who scored 59% or less). They then measured the EI of the participants from both groups in order to see if there was a relationship with AP. They found that EI does affect AP, but different aspects of EI correlate more than others. It was found that the students with better grades were also better at stress management and found to have a higher self image and self esteem. However with correlation it is difficult to establish cause and effect. It could be the case that AP actually influences EI rather than the later view i.e students feeling good about themselves because of their achievements.

FFM measures of personality should be useful in identifying students who are likely to underperform. Students who score low on conscientiousness are possibly at more of a risk of failing and not achieving the end product, because during the process of learning they may have a reduced effort and poor goal settings. Conscientiousness seems to play the largest role in academic success. EI profiling can also help identify children who would benefit from social and self esteem interventions. Being able to identifying such issues would allow the correct support and guidance for students during the learning process, enabling them to perform better academically. It can be concluded from the research gathered that certain aspects of FFM and EI do play a role in the process and product of educational performance.