The Big Five Personality Dimensions and the Process of Institutional Departure

Morris A. Okun, John F. Finch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study investigated the role of the "Big Five" personality dimensions in the dynamics of institutional departure in a convenience sample of 240 first-time, first-semester students enrolled in Introduction to Psychology at a large southwestern state university. Of the "Big Five" dimensions (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience), structural equation modeling revealed that conscientiousness exhibited the largest total effect on institutional departure (-.293). Conscientiousness exerted indirect effects (-.133) on institutional departure via organizational involvement, initial institutional commitment, and cumulative GPA as well as a direct effect (-.160) on institutional departure. Only 14 of the 240 students departed the institution within 1 year. A discriminant function analysis of institutional persistence versus departure, using cumulative GPA, institutional commitment, and conscientiousness as predictors, yielded a high false positive rate (67.6%) and a high sensitivity rate (78.6%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-256
Number of pages24
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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