Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Gregory Feist

Subject Areas

Psychology, Clinical.; Psychology, Industrial.; Psychology, Personality.


The decision to pursue a career as a scientist and the likelihood of becoming successful is dependent upon a variety of factors, including a unique blend of personality characteristics and mental health. Being either thing- or people-oriented may also be related to whether or not an individual chooses to travel down either the Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) or Social Science path. In order to examine these relationships, 214 academic scientists throughout the United States were assessed on a battery of personality and mental health measures. As was expected, social scientists scored higher than STEM scientists in general on a measure of extraversion. However, STEM scientists in general scored higher than social scientists on an overall measure of autistic characteristics and on specific autistic characteristics' scales. STEM scientists also scored higher than social scientists on the schizotypal trait, cognitive disorganization. Further evidence of the relationships between personality, mental health, and fields of science as well as interpretations and implications of these findings are presented.