Personality Neuroscience Part 6: The Conscientiousness Trait
By Drew D'Agostino
This is Part 6 of our series on Personality Neuroscience.Click hereto read from the beginning.
Conscientiousness is aBig Fivetrait that explains an individual’s ability and tendency to pursue non-immediate goals and follow a set of rules, often manifesting inorderly,methodical,task-focusedbehavior.
Conscientiousness can be broken down into two sub-traits (DeYoung, 2016):
Industriousness, which refers to the ability to suppress disruptive impulses and pursue non-immediate goals
Orderliness, which refers to the ability to adopt and follow rules (either self-imposed or imposed by others).
These aspects of conscientiousness often make it the best psychological predictor of career success, health, and longevity after intelligence. Naturally, researchers have done a lot of work to find out which genetic and environmental factors lead to high conscientiousness.
Your brain hasbillionsof neurons, and many of these neurons are connected in an observablepathway, serving a specific purpose. We call these pathwaysneural networks.
High Conscientiousness has been linked to a greater connectivity between several neural networks in the brain:
The cognitive control networkcontrols yourexecutive functions- attention, planning, working memory, and social behavior.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a key part of the cognitive control network, and it has a significant impact on Conscientiousness.
Somestudieshave shown a positive association between volumes of certain regions within the PFC and Conscientiousness - meaning people with higher Conscientiousness are likely to have a slightly larger prefrontal cortex than others.