Openness is influenced by cognitive abilities: Self-efficacy too?
Interesting finding that supporting older adults learning better problem-solving skills seems to lead to a change in a personality trait called “openness.” I find this interesting for two reasons. First, it’s wonderful to see continuing evidence about the plasticity of the human mind. Surprisingly little is “fixed” or “innate.” Second, I wonder how “openness” relates to “self-efficacy.” We heard at ICER 2011 how self-efficacy plays a significant role in student ability to succeed in introductory computing. Is there an implication here that if we could improve students’ understanding of computer science, before programming, that we could enhance their openness or self-efficacy, possibly leading to more success? That’s a related hypothesis to what we aim for in CSLearning4U (that studying programming in the small, worksheet-style, will make programming sessions more effective — more learning, less time, less pain), and I’d love to see more evidence for this.
Personality psychologists describe openness as one of five major personality traits. Studies suggest that the other four traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and extraversion) operate independently of a person’s cognitive abilities. But openness — being flexible and creative, embracing new ideas and taking on challenging intellectual or cultural pursuits — does appear to be correlated with cognitive abilities.