Testing medical school applicants to see if they have five specific personality traits could help predict their success in medical school and even later in their practice, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Difference.

The study found the following personality traits could lead to better performance.

  • Conscientiousness.
  • Achievement orientation.
  • Social confidence.
  • Tolerance.
  • Responsibility.

The study also included calm-relaxed demeanor, but found no statistical difference for study subjects with this trait.

The study was led by psychology Prof. Matt McLarnon of Oakland University in the U.S., and psychology Prof. Richard Goffin and business Prof. Mitch Rothstein of Western University.

Different traits for different kinds of doctor

Blake Jelley of the UPEI school of business, one of nine authors on the study, told CBC News earlier work by the same research team found different personality traits suggested a better chance of success for different disciplines.

UPEI business Prof. Blake Jelley

The research is still in its early stages, says Jelley. (UPEI)

"Endurance was especially seen as relevant for surgery, whereas agreeableness was one of the top three that came up for family medicine. It also came out in pediatrics, for example," said Jelley.

"Depending on particular demands of very specialized roles, you might be looking for different things."

The study tracked about 300 medical students over several years to see what difference the personality traits made.

Jelley said the research is still in its early stages, and the team hasn't pitched using the personality test to any medical schools other than to Western University, where the study was done.

With files from Laura Chapin