Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Paul Shelton

Second Advisor

Shawn Talbot

Third Advisor

Craig Johnson


High school students and working-age adults are frequently pressured by teachers, relatives, peers, employers, and state and federal governments to attend college for such reasons as obtaining new skills, increasing salary and prestige, and seeking new career opportunities (Baxter & Kavanagh, 2012; Calmes, 2014; Holcomb, 2008; Pringle, DuBose, & Yankey, 2010). Approximately 25% of these students drop out of school within the freshman year (ACT, 2013) due, in part, to a poor personality fit with their major (Jones & Jones, 2014). Consequently, attrition has become a costly problem for university administrators and taxpayers (American Institutes for Research, 2011). Personality is a predictor of academic success (Rosander & Backstrom, 2014; Tyagi & Bansal, 2010), and attrition may be reduced via proper personality screening. Personality psychologists agree that personality can be described by five, broad traits: extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience (Hunt, 2007). Personality has also been linked to major satisfaction (Logue, Lounsbury, Gupta, & Leong, 2007), which, in turn, is linked to positive retention rates (Zhai, 2012). Few studies regarding personality and its relation to major satisfaction have been carried out on business programs, specifically the management and accounting disciplines (Lounsbury, Smith, Levy, Leong, & Gibson, 2009). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate which of the Big Five traits relate to major satisfaction in the hopes of discovering a connection that will help university administrators to better improve retention rates. Furthermore, nontraditional student characteristics, such as gender, age, and work history, were examined to determine whether and to what degree each of these factors may influence trait development (Debast et al., 2014; Kovar, Ott, & Fisher, 2003; Scollon & Diener, 2006). Key findings from this study are described below. Management students were more extraverted and open to experience than accounting students. Women scored higher in conscientiousness than men. Male management students scored lower in neuroticism than women. Female accounting students were more satisfied with their college major than female management students. Conscientiousness was a predictor of college major satisfaction. Finally, students who were age 30 or older, as well as students who have worked for 5 or more years, possessed higher levels of conscientiousness and lower levels of neuroticism, than younger students.