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What is Conscientiousness?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains conscientiousness.

grey clock icon 0:55 Quickly understand conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness is a personality trait which determines how organised, diligent, hard-working, and cautious a person is. People who score highly on conscientiousness tend to prefer structure and order, feeling comfortable operating within systems, processes, and routines. People who score low on conscientiousness tend to prefer a laidback approach to their life, finding structures and processes to be inherently stifling.

Conscientiousness is a major constituent of the Big Five personality traits, alongside openness to experiences, agreeableness, neuroticism and extraversion. Conscientiousness (or similarly defined constructs), also appear in other models of personality, including the HEXACO model and the 16PF model. Conscientiousness is therefore measured by a wide range of assessments, and is one of the more important psychological constructs in occupational settings.

In employee selection, conscientiousness is almost ubiquitously associated with job performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). Naturally, conscientiousness allows people to focus on their work, keeping them diligent and attentive, increasing the quantity and quality of their outputs. Research also shows that conscientiousness is particularly important in less complex work, including routine blue collar occupations (Wilmot & Ones, 2019). This is because highly conscientious individuals are better suited to structure and routine, helping them to remain focused and consistent in their efforts.

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