4 min read

How your Personality impacts your Performance

How your Personality impacts your Performance

Hello and welcome everybody. It's Sunday, that means another episode of 'Gaming Science' is here - yey.

In today's episode, we'll discuss personality traits of players and their relationship to in-game performance. More specifically, we will investigate which personality traits are associated with a higher rank in Counter-Strike.

💡 Highlights
• Personality traits are thought to impact performance.
• The study examined the differences in personality traits across in-game ranks.
• Neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness distinguished players of different ranks.
• It appears that personality traits indirectly influence performance, rather than directly.
• The male/female ratio may influence study results.
• A study on League of Legends players found different results, showing the complex nature of the matter.

As gaming, and specifically esports, has grown, more emphasis has been put on performance. Players and teams at every competitive level strive to maximize their ranking. In tandem with this, research has started to look at factors such as stress, coping strategies, training methods, team cohesion, and communication, all of which contribute to better performance.

Personality traits are believed to influence performance, and they are generally considered to be stable over time. In that light, some individuals may be naturally better equipped than others. However, there is ongoing debate about whether engaging in activities such as playing video games can alter a person's personality traits, or the other way around. It's also important to note that, to date, there is no empirical evidence suggesting "that specific personality traits indicate a player’s competitive ability [...] within any esports. [1]"

In this episode, we will discuss the complex interplay between personality traits and performance. Specifically, the aim of the study we'll be looking at today examines differences in personality traits of CS gamers across different in-game rank.

💽 Method

In the present study, 95 CS:GO players - who compete on a local or national level - were surveyed. 55 of them played in the two highest leagues (which represents about 3.39% of the entire CS:GO population). The remaining players were low and moderate ranked. The players' personality traits were measured using the Big-5 model, which is the most widely used one in science.

🏆 Results

The major discovery of the study was that three out of the five personality traits examined showed differences among players of varying in-game ranks. This indicates that gamers of one rank reported significantly higher or lower levels of at least one personality trait compared to those of another rank. The three traits found to be significant were neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. Let's take a look at them one-by-one.

"We found that high in-game rank players reported significantly lower levels of neuroticism [and higher levels of conscientiousness] than both moderate and low in-game rank players [1]."

People scoring low on neuroticism are shown to be more confident [2], evaluate situations as less stressful, and adopt more effective coping strategies. In short, they are less prone to negative emotions. A high level of self-confidence in turn is associated with higher performance in traditional sports [3, 4].

With regards to conscientiousness, individuals with a high score "are typically characterized by high levels of achievement-oriented motivation and high reliability [1, 5]", better preparation [6], and more effective at using coping strategies [7].

"[...] moderate in-game rank players reported significantly higher levels of agreeableness than low in-game rank players [1]."

The third dimension of interest is agreeableness. Being altruistic and sympathetic towards others is commonly referred to as characteristics of people with high scores in that trait [5]. In traditional sports, high scores in agreeableness were found to be associated with athletic success [3], especially at a team level [8]. This is mainly because individuals are better at maintaining relationships with their teammates (trust, team cohesion, etc.).

🤔 Implications

There are really two key takeaways: firstly, personality traits don't seem to directly impact your gaming performance, but rather take an indirect route (e.g., through team cohesion, better preparation, and increased self-confidence). Secondly, it is possible to work on those aspects, suggesting it's possible to be great in-game performer even with "less favorable" personality traits. However, it appears to be "easier" if you possess what's considered a "better" personality.

Similar to neuroticism, women tend to score higher in agreeableness. This may be an important element when looking at the results. The majority of high-ranked players in highly competitive games are male. Also, 10 out of the 95 study participants are female. Considering those facts, it makes sense that players in the higher ranks are predominantly male with lower levels of neuroticism and agreeableness, and that those two traits then distinguish medium from lower ranked players. This assumption is further supported by the fact that five female players (out of 20 total) were found in the medium-ranked group.

"[...] high [League of Legends] in-game rank players reported significantly less agreeableness and extraversion, yet significantly more openness than low ranked players. [1, 9]"

In this earlier episode, the study examining personality traits and in-game ranks in League of Legends players, with different results emerging. The findings from both studies, as well as those from traditional sports athletes, underscore the complexity of the issue. They suggest that factors such as game genre, sample differences, and other variables may influence the relationship between performance and personality traits.

What do you think? Let me hear your thoughts on Twitter (X) and LinkedIn.

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Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a great week. Cheers,

Christian 😃


[1] Birch et al., 2023
[2] Piedmont et al., 1999
[3] Allen et al., 2011
[4] Moritz et al., 2000
[5] Digman, 1990
[6] Woodman et al., 2010
[7] Kaiseler et al., 2012
[8] Van der Zee, & Wabeke, 2004
[9] Matuszewski et al., 2020

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