Extroversion and entrepreneurship
The Sector > Research > Extroverted children could be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, study shows

Extroverted children could be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, study shows

by Freya Lucas

May 29, 2024

Children who are extroverted in childhood and adolescence are slightly more likely to want to start their own business and follow an entrepreneurial path than their less extraverted peers, analysis from a 17-year longitudinal study has found. 


Entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching, and running a new business by someone who identifies a market need and develops a product or service to meet that need. 


Entrepreneurs are individuals who take on financial risks and uncertainties of starting and managing new ventures in hopes of making a profit and driving innovation. Entrepreneurs drive economic growth by creating new businesses, which leads to job creation and increased employment opportunities. They stimulate innovation by developing new products, services, and technologies.


Entrepreneurs contribute to competition in the marketplace, which can lead to better products and services at lower prices for consumers. They play a key role in wealth generation and distribution, often leading to increased investments in different sectors of the economy. 


Entrepreneurs can bring about social change by addressing gaps in the market with socially responsible and sustainable business practices. They can inspire others to pursue their own business ideas, fostering a culture of creativity and ambition.


Conducted in Belgium researchers found the correlation when analysing data from FSPPD, a longitudinal Belgian study that started in 1999. It included 684 families that had Belgian nationality and were Flemish speaking. The study followed these families for 17 years, with seven data collection waves until the time of the analysis for this study.


Authors used data from five different data collection periods ranging from when participating children were six to nine years old (in 2001) until they were 23-26 years old (in 2018). The study participants’ parents completed an assessment of their children’s personality (the Hierarchical Personality Inventory for Children). The authors used these data sets to calculate the similarity of the children’s/adolescents’ personality profiles to the entrepreneurial personality profile.


Entrepreneurial intention was self assessed at the last data collection point (in 2018) through a series of questions such as (“I am ready to do anything to be an entrepreneur,” “My professional goal is to become an entrepreneur,” “I will make every effort to start and run my own firm”), when participants who joined the study as children were already young adults .


Results showed no association between personality traits at ages six to nine years and entrepreneurial intention in adulthood. Children who showed lower levels of benevolence at 9-12 years of age were slightly more likely to show entrepreneurial intentions as young adults.


Participants scoring higher on extraversion at age 12-15 years of age tended to show slightly higher levels of entrepreneurial intention as young adults. This association became stronger when calculated with extraversion at age 14-17 years of age.


Male participants tended to show stronger entrepreneurial intentions. When other personality traits were controlled for, the link between extraversion and entrepreneurial intent in young adulthood became detectable already at 9-12 years.


“Our data shows that from a young age, extraversion is important for the emergence of entrepreneurial intentions at a later age, supporting previous findings that have linked extraversion, behaviour activation system sensitivity, (the degree to which an individual is responsive to reward stimuli, driving them toward goal-directed behaviours), and positive affect with entrepreneurship,” study authors concluded.


Published in Applied Psychology, the research may be found here. 

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