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Individual differences in cognition: the correlation between personality and memory
The area of Psychology research considering personality is forever expanding and looking at different factors which affect personality and development. Personality however, is far too broad and complex to simplify it to small factors.
Then came along the Five Factor Model. The model organises personality traits into five different dimensions: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. This Five Factor Model allows examination of personality by simplifying it into categories which can then be analysed in simpler terms (McCrae & John, 1992).
A research study examined the power of personality on processing speed, school performance and psychometric intelligence testing; Rindermann & Neubauer (2001) discovered that this had not exclusively been tested. Researchers looked at school grades, used the Zahlen-Verbindungs-Test to examine processing speed and used psychometric intelligence tests; collectively used to examine cognitive performance. They found positive correlations for all 3 factors of cognitive performance & personality.
This research may pose an interest to the current study as it gives insight into the factors that can be considered for the study. In order to measure cognition, researchers can look at exam results of students, whether that be GCSE/A Level results, and memory tasks, such as the verbal learning test Delis et al (1987) which is used to asses memory.
Memory is also a very complex and dense topic in the area of psychology, be that memory development or memory capabilities. The most relevant type of memory to be concentrated on is episodic memory, this form of memory relating to personal experiences and events (Tulving, 1999). Knowing this, it would be of interest to evaluate whether episodic memory plays a role in the development of a personality since it controls personal memory recollection. Episodic memory is personal and emotional, filled with detail, meaning and relevance (Dere, Easton, Nadel & Huston, 2008).
A study was conducted by researchers to evaluate personality’s effect on episodic memory performance. Looking at 287 adults between the age of 68 and 95. They operationalised the study and assessed two personality traits, extraversion and neuroticism. Assessing episodic memory was done through evaluating everyday tasks. The results revealed that higher extraversion and lower neuroticism were supplementary to higher episodic memory performance. The by-variables of age and gender were also examined revealing correlations of neuroticism and episodic memory reducing as age increased in the male sample (Meier, Perrig-Chiello & Perrig, 2002).
Considering this study, it may also be of interest to see whether there is a difference in cognitive performance between the males and females of the study concentrating on the neuroticism personality trait.
The general aim is to evaluate whether there is a significance of personality on cognitive performance, to be more specific, memory capability. The study will examine the 5 personality traits, such as extraversion and neuroticism, and see whether these traits impact cognitive ability.
All of the data that will be collected in a quantitative manner. It may be of interest to use a combination of questionnaires, personality tests and short cognitive tasks. One questionnaire that will be used will be a quantitative survey of GCSE or A Level/University exam results, this questionnaire would get the gist of how well people perform on exams and used as one tool to assess cognitive ability. This questionnaire will be created by the researcher.
In order to examine and categorise personality, the Big Five Inventory questionnaire (John & Srivastava, 1999) will be used to find out what personality category participants come under.
In order to assess memory, the verbal learning recall task by Delis et al (1987) can be used. The more words recalled on this task, the better the memory. This can be manipulate by participants going against each other while taking their recall test and can give somewhat if people personality plays a role while against other personality (e.g. Extraversion vs. Neuroticism).
The dependent variable is memory recall with two levels: high recall and low recall. High recall will imply better memory/cognitive ability. There will be two independent variables, the first being personality type, based off the Big Five inventory (John & Srivastava, 1999), there will be 5 levels to this variable: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. The second independent variable will be school grades, again, with two levels: high or low.
Correlational and regression type design (to assess an outcome variable and the continuous association or between the independent variable and dependent variable).
The study will use a collection of undergraduate university students in Preston. Researchers will utilise an opportunity sampling technique to collect participants and their data.
Figure 1:
Delis, D. C.,  Kramer,  J. H., Kaplan, E., Ober, B. A. and Fridlund, A. (1987). California Verbal Learning Test. The Psychological Corporation. San Antonio.
Dere, E., Easton, A., Nadel, L., & Huston, J. P. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of episodic memory (Vol. 18). Elsevier.
John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big-Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (Vol. 2, pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford Press.
McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five‐factor model and its applications. Journal of personality, 60(2), 175-215.
Meier, B., Perrig-Chiello, P., & Perrig, W. (2002). Personality and memory in old age. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 9(2), 135-144.
Rindermann, H., & Neubauer, A. C. (2001). The influence of personality on three aspects of cognitive performance: Processing speed, intelligence and school performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(5), 829-842.
Tulving, E. (1999). On the uniqueness of episodic memory.

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