Study: Shy Students Choose Science

GRONINGEN, Netherlands, Oct. 22 (UPI) — A Dutch study found shy, introverted students are more likely to choose science subjects at school while more sociable children tend to avoid them.

Researchers at the University of Groningen analyzing data on nearly 4000 students found that their subject choices at age 15 were affected by personality, NewScientist.com reported Friday.


Students choosing science subjects tended to be less extroverted than those who chose non-science subjects and scored more highly on conscientiousness and emotional stability, education researcher Hanke Korpershoek says.

“There’s a feeling that science students have nerdy characteristics,” she says, “but we were surprised to see it in our results, and to see it as early as age 15.”

While she says she’s not recommending guiding students based on personality tests, she argues that teachers should focus not just on a subject’s content but on the type of job it might lead to.

For example, she says, if a student is tidy, orderly and precise, then they might enjoy working in a lab.

Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the Institute of Education in London, disagrees.

“It would be a disaster if the advice ‘you should only do physics if you are introverted’ was given in schools,” he says. “We want all students, whatever their personality, to find things within science that intrigue and excite them.”

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