Childhood intelligence and personality traits neuroticism and openness contributes to social mobility: A study in the Aberdeen 1936 Birth Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)



Social mobility has been linked to intelligence, education, personality traits and childhood socioeconomic status (SES). We explore these influences to evaluate their relative importance as sources of individual differences in social mobility.


Data are from the Aberdeen Birth Cohort of 1936 (ABC36) for whom childhood intelligence scores are available. Social mobility of participants was estimated from comparisons between their childhood and adult circumstances age 64. Personality traits were assessed using the Five Factor model. Structural Equation Modelling was used to investigate the influence on social mobility of socioeconomic variables, childhood and adult intelligence, education and personality traits.


Controlling for childhood socioeconomic status and childhood intelligence, upward social mobility is predicted by personality traits of Openness (positive) and Neuroticism (negative). Neuroticism had a significant direct influence on mobility after. Openness had an indirect effect via Education and adult cognitive ability. Education, childhood and adult cognitive ability are significant influences on mobility.


Socioeconomic destination is determined in this sample by childhood intelligence and socioeconomic status and the adult personality traits of Openness and Neuroticism. Educational exposure and gains in cognitive ability over the life course mediate these influences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date20 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017



  • cohort study
  • social mobility
  • intelligence
  • education
  • personality
  • socioeconomic status

Cite this