Cognitive ability, personality, and academic performance in adolescence

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Does positive thinking predict variance in school grades over and above that predicted by cognitive ability? Six hundred and thirty nine high school students participated in a three-year longitudinal study that predicted grades using cognitive ability and three positive thinking variables – self-esteem, hope, and attributional style. Hope, positive attributional style and cognitive ability predicted higher grades, whilst self-esteem was a less consistent predictor of academic performance. Structural equation modelling revealed significant paths from cognitive ability, gender, and a second order positive thinking factor to grades. The results suggest that intelligence, gender, and positive thinking each play a unique role in predicting academic performance in youth. Some suggestions for further research are made.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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