Personality traits of pharmacy and medical students throughout their course of studies

  • Maria Cordina
  • Mary-Anne Lauri
  • Raphael Buttigieg
  • Josef Lauri
Keywords: Personality Assessment, Personality, Social Behavior, Self Concept, Students, Pharmacy, Medical, Longitudinal Studies, Malta


Background: Pharmacists and medical doctors are two professional groups that very often receive their education and practice in the same environment. However, their approach to patient care and collaboration tends to be different and this may lead to both frustration and conflict which may adversely affect patient care. Personality has been identified as a psychological issue that could contribute to conflict in a work situation.

Objective: To study the personality traits of a cohort of students studying pharmacy and medicine at the University of Malta in their first and final year.

Methods: The Gordon Personal Profile – Inventory was administered to a cohort of pharmacy and medical students in their first year and once again administered to the same cohort who completed their course of study in their final year. Basic demographic data was also collected.

Results: In first year the most pronounced traits for both student groups were those of Emotional Stability and Personal Relations. Over a period of five years, there were shifts in personality traits. In their final year pharmacy students were characterized by high scores for Cautiousness and Personal Relations while medical students exhibited medium scores in Cautiousness and Emotional Stability.

Conclusion: The changes in personality traits over the duration of the course were not radical changes but rather that of traits becoming more pronounced.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Maria Cordina

Associaite Professor. Dept of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. University of Malta

Mary-Anne Lauri

Associate Professor, Department of Psycholog,

Faculty for Social Wellbeing, Pro-Recto,

University of Malta

Raphael Buttigieg

Faculty of Medicine and Surger, University of Malta

Josef Lauri

Professor, Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science, University of Malta


1. Gallagher RM, Gallagher HC. Improving the working relationship between doctors and pharmacists: is inter-professional education the answer? Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2012;17(2):247-257. doi: 10.1007/s10459-010-9260-5

2. Brown J, Lewis L, Ellis K, Stewart M, Freeman TR, Kasperski MJ. Conflict on interprofessional primary health care teams - can it be resolved? J Interprof Care. 2011;25(1):4-10. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2010.497750

3. Payne M. Teamwork in multiprofessional care. Chicago, Il: Luceum Books Inc; 2000.

4. Cattell RB. The Scientific Analysis of Personality. Baltimore, MD: Penguin; 1965.

5. Eysenc HJ, Eysenck SBG. The Manual of the Eysenck Personality Inventory. London: University of London Press; 1964.

6. Costa PT, Mccrea PR. The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEOPI‐R) and NEO five Factor Inventory (Neo‐FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources; 1992.

7. Cattell RB, Cattell AK, Cattell HEP. 16PF Fifth Edition Questionnaire. 5th ed. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing; 1993.

8. Gough GH. California Psychological Inventory (CPI‐260). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Pres, Inc; 2002.

9. Myers IB. The Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service: 1962.

10. Gordon LV. The Gordon Personal Profile‐Inventory (GPP‐I). Global Edition. The NFER‐NELSON Publishing Company, UK. 1993.

11. Kyllonen PC, Walters AM, Kaufman JC. The Role of Noncognitive Constructs and Other Background Variables in Graduate Education. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service; 2011.

12. Lowenthal W. Myers-Briggs Type Inventory preferences of pharmacy students and practitioners. Eval Health Prof. 1994;17(1):22‐42. doi: 10.1177/016327879401700102

13. Shuck AA, Philips CR. Assessing Pharmacy Students’ Learning Styles and Personality Types: A Ten –Year Analysis. Am J Pharm Edu. 1999;63:27‐33.

14. Chaudri U, Syms MM. A personality profile of year one pharmacy students and lecturers using the Myers‐Briggs Type indicator. Pharm J. 1999;(263):R50‐R51.

15. Cordina M, Lauri MA, Lauri J. Patient‐oriented personality traits of first year pharmacy students. Am J Pharm Educ. 2010 Jun 15;74(5):84.

16. Ferguson E, James D, O’Hehir F, Sanders A. Pilot study of personality, references, and personal statements in relation to performance over the five years of a medical degree. BMJ. 2003;326(7386):429-432.

17. Hojat M, Callahan CA, Gonnella JS. Students’ personality and ratings of clinical competence in medical school clerkship: A longitudinal study. Psychol Health Med. 2004;9(2):247‐252.

18 Haight SJ, Chibnall JT, Schindler DL, Slavin SJ. Associations of medical student personality and health/wellness characteristics with their medical school performance across the curriculum. Acad Med. 2012;87(4):476-485. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318248e9d0

19. Borges NJ, Savickas ML. Personality and medical speciality choice: A literature review and integration. J Career Asses. 2002;10(3):362‐380. doi: 10.1177/10672702010003006

20. Hojat M, Zuckerman M. Personality and speciality interest in medical students. Med Teach. 2008;30(4):400-406. doi: 10.1080/01421590802043835

21. Market RJ, Rodenhauser P, El‐ Baghdadi MM, Juskaite K, Hillel AT, Maron BA. Personality as a prognostic factor for speciality choice: A prospective study of 14 medical school classes. Medscape J Med. 2008;10(2):49.

22. Shen H, Comrey AL. Predicting medical students’ academic performances by their cognitive abilities and personality characteristics. Acad Med. 1997;72(9):781-786.

23. Lievens F, Coetsier P, De Fruyt F, De Maeseneer J. Medical students’ personality, characteristics and academic performance: A five‐ factor model perspective. Med Educ. 2002;36(11):1050-1056.

24. Mustaffa MB, Nasir R, Khairudin R, Wan Shahrazad WS, Syed Salim SS. Understanding the personality traits of medical students using the five factor model. Asian Soc Sci. 2012;8(9):17‐22. doi: 10.5539/ass.v8n9p17

25. Lauri MA, Cordina M, Lauri J, Mifsud D. Choosing the pharmacy course: the need for guidance and counseling in preparation for higher education. Pharm Educ. 2011;11:85‐90

26. Cordina M, Lauri MA, Lauri J. Career paths and personality in pharmacy. Int J Clin Pharm. 2012;34(6):876-884. doi: 10.1007/s11096-012-9686-3

27. Cocolas GH, Sleath B, Hanson‐Divers EC. Use of Gordon Personal Profile‐Inventory of pharmacists and pharmacy students. Am J Pharm Educ. 1997;61:257‐65.

28. Lathey JW. Temprement style as a predictor of academic achievement in early adolescence. J Psychol Type. 1991;22:52‐58.

29. Sanchez MM, Rejano EI, Rodriguez YT. Personality and academic productivity in the university student. Soc Behav Pers. 2001;29(3):299‐305.

30. Barratt ES, White R. Impulsiveness and anxiety related to medical students’ performance and attitudes. J Med Educ. 1969;44(7):604-607.

31. Tett RP, Burnett DD. A personality trait interactionist model of job performance. J Appl Psychol. 2003;88(3):500-517.

32. Lievens F, Ones DS, Dilchert S. Personality scale validities increase throughout medical school. J Appl Psychol. 2009;94(6):1514-1535. doi: 10.1037/a0016137

33. Borman WC, Motowidlo SJ. Expanding the criterion domain to include elements of contextual performance. In: Schmit N, Borman WC eds. Personnel Selection in Organisations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey‐Bass; 1993.

34. McAdams DP, Bradley DO. Personality Development: Continuity and change over the life course. Annu Rev Psychol. 2010;61:517-542. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100507

35. Arnett JJ. Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from late teens through the twenties. Am Psychol. 2000;55(5):469-480.

36. Robins RW, Fraley RC, Roberts BW, Trzesniewski KH. A longitudinal study of personality change in young adulthood. J Pers. 2001;69(4):617-640.

37. Cohen JW. Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for Behavioural Sciences .2nd ed.. New York: Erlbaum; 1998.
Original Research