Social status and personality traits

We provide direct evidence on the relationship between social status and personality traits. Using survey data from the 2006–2012 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study, we show that self-perceived social status is associated with all the “Big Five” personality traits, after controlling for observable characteristics that arguably reflect one’s actual status. We also construct an objective status measure that in turn is associated with personality traits. Objectively measured status is positively but not highly correlated with its subjective counterpart. When incorporated in a regression specification, it still leaves room for significant correlations between personality traits and status perception: traits such as openness, conscientiousness and extraversion predict a higher self-positioning on the social ladder, while agreeableness and neuroticism predict a lower one.

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