Poor children are less likely to be “extroverts” which could affect their earnings later in life, according to a new study.
It found that a person’s personality and aspirations are strongly linked to their social background.
Those who came from more advantaged homes – whose parents worked in a professional job – were more likely to be assertive, talkative and enthusiastic, the traits of an extrovert, researchers at the Universities of Kent and Cambridge found.
They were also more likely to show high levels of openness, including imagination and intellectual curiosity.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which published the research, said that the results showed the importance of building the aspirations of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and giving them the skills and qualities – such as confidence and enthusiasm – that they will need in the workplace.
The findings, based on an analysis of data on 150,000 UK residents gathered through the BBC’s Big Personality Test, goes on to show that adults who are more extroverted are more likely to earn higher salaries.
Overall, extroverted adults are 25 per cent more likely to earn over £40,000 a year, with the odds higher for men than women, while those who are conscientious have around a 20 per cent chance of gaining a high-paying job.
“For a variety of reasons, children from more advantaged backgrounds appear more likely to develop personality characteristics and aspirations which subsequently benefit them in the labour market,” the study says.
“There are likely to be many reasons for this, including the fact that children from lower income backgrounds are more likely to experience stress and instability at home.”
The study suggests that schools should work to improve poorer youngsters’ knowledge of professional careers, that schools should use good feedback to improve pupils’ social skills and that schools and colleges should give youngsters training in employability skills and interview techniques.
It also suggests that programmes aimed at improving results for poorer children should focus on wider skills as well as academic achievement.