A recent study conducted by the Sutton Trust educational charity has suggested that those who come from richer backgrounds tend to have greater assertiveness and career success than their peers.
The review explains how those who have a wealthier upbringing are more likely to have better-paid jobs due to more extrovert characteristics, talkativeness and greater enthusiasm. It reported that these traits are 25 per cent more likely to result in an income over £40,000 and are predominantly found in the upper class rather than in those from less privileged backgrounds.
Titled, A Winning Personality, the study examined whether the background of a child could determine the personality they develop and whether this can hold them back later on in life.
Emphasising the role education plays on developing a child’s social skills, it calls upon the education system to help to enhance non-cognitive skills amongst more disadvantaged children so they are better positioned in relation to their more affluent counterparts.
Using evidence from the BBC’s 2009 The Big Personality Test and data from 90 peer-reviewed academic studies, Jason Rentfrow of Cambridge University and Robert de Vries from the University of Kent, analysed whether there was a link between family backgrounds and individual personalities. They then utilised this when establishing how much this affected future career opportunities.
They already knew that within the UK there is a strong association between an advantaged upbringing, better academic results and greater professional success.
However, their analysis also found that those who came from relatively affluent backgrounds had other advantages that were non-academic. Within their personalities, they developed better career aspiration and extroversion that allowed them to have the upper hand over those who received fewer privileges at a young age.
The report found that those who displayed greater imaginations, intellectual curiosity, ambition and openness tended to have parents in professional jobs and came from a more prosperous family. These qualities, in combination with conscientiousness and self-discipline resulted in the pursuit of vocations that provided higher earnings.
Speaking about the findings, the Sutton Trust’s chair, Sir Peter Lampl, commented that getting good grades just wasn’t enough any more. He emphasised the importance of encouraging children from underprivileged backgrounds to develop key skills at school, including creativity, desire and confidence.
With so many recruitment processes and employment specifications now focusing on social skills, this need for resilience and self-assurance is going to become increasingly important.
The findings encourage schools to build upon disadvantaged pupils’ social skills, with a focus on making them more aware of higher-paid careers and with interventions that will broaden their abilities beyond the bounds of academic success.
Education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has already made the instillation of spirit and eagerness within children an important priority in improving education for England’s schoolchildren.
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