The Relationship Between Academic Burnout and Personality Traits

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About this sample


Words: 1026 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 1026|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Neuroticism
  2. Agreeableness
  3. References

My objective is to review past research for any relationship between academic burnout and the personality traits of agreeableness, and neuroticism. Academic burnout is the term for a phenomena where students may show emotional/physical exhaustion, low self-efficacy, self-doubt in capabilities, detachment from others and work, and cynicism (Maslach, Leiter 2016). Students at risk for burnout may also be at a higher risk for dropping out. My objective is aimed at finding the difference in susceptibility to academic burnout based on two of the “Big Five” personality traits, neuroticism and agreeableness. Neuroticism is defined by emotional instability in the “Big Five” while agreeableness is defined by openness and warmth. I aim to find out if there is a positive correlational relationship with people who score higher in neuroticism, and a negative correlational relationship with those who score higher in agreeableness. I reviewed studies that used the Maslach Burnout Inventory scale as measurements for burnout. My measurement for neuroticism and burnout were studies involving the “Big Five” personality traits. Academic burnout can lead to students feeling exhausted, depleted, and detached. This can impact their grades, relationships, and for some lead to them dropping out. Academic burnout can also leave students feeling doubtful about their competence, and lower their self-esteem. Burnout was first termed by a psychologist, Freudenburger in 1975, who had experienced it himself, as with some of the volunteers who worked at his office Bakker, et al. (2004). In 1986 Maslach and Jackson created the MBI, the Maslach Burnout inventory scale that has been used in many studies. The original was specifically geared toward occupational burnout. While many studies have researched “burnout” in the occupational field, especially those in a medical, or social and human services, such as counseling, research on academic burnout has just begun. Many studies that have been done have focused on contextual situations as opposed to personality traits, Maslach, Leiter (2016). Since the MBI, Maslach has created several other scales for measuring burnout, and two of them are geared toward academia. The educators survey, and the general survey for students. Maslach’s Burnout typically focus on three aspects, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and depersonalization. The aspects of academic burnout are exhaustion from a compulsion to study, feeling incapable and self doubt as a student, as well as feeling pessimistic about school work. Students also may feel detachment from other students, teachers, and work. Cham, et al. (2007)

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Neuroticism is considered emotional instability on the “Big Five '' personality scale. Items that I used and that I found to be common in studies measuring neuroticism operationally were emotional exhaustion, anxiety, depersonalization, vulnerability, sadness, and low self-efficacy. These traits can leave a person emotionally challenged and unequipped to handle stressful situations or situations in which they need to lead, which are also familiar situations students find themselves in.

Past research has found a positive correlation between neuroticism and academic burnout. In a study aimed at predicting burnout through the MBI-SS found that the biggest predictors for burnout are those students who rate highest in cynicism, disengagement, and negative affect. This study also found that procrastination, dissatisfaction, and low self-efficacy correlate highly with burnout. All of these traits are also traits of people who score highly in the neuroticism measure. Merhi, et. al. (2018). This same study also found a relationship between efficacy and burnout, and that previous experience with low self-efficacy may leave a person more susceptible to burnout. Merhi, et al. (2018)

Emotional exhaustion and depersonalization are important factors in measuring neuroticism, and burnout. Both have been consistently linked to burn out and neuroticism. The Journal of Social Psychology published a study about burnout among volunteer counselors and found that (through a stepwise regression analysis) significant results when using feelings of exhaustion to predict neuroticism and burnout. Significant results were also found in the measure of depersonalization and burnout. Several studies have shown that one trait of neuroticism is having strong emotional reactions which may leave them more vulnerable to everyday stresses. Research has also suggested that a trait of neuroticism is the inability to cope effectively- both these traits may influence the relationship that has been shown between neuroticism and burnout. Bakker, et al. (2002)

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Agreeableness is measured by items such as flexibleness, courteousness, warmth, kindness, optimism, and cooperativeness Durkhan, (2018). Past research has shown that personal achievement, engagement, and positive affectivity are items that correlate positively with agreeableness and negatively with academic burnout. Students who are higher in agreeableness have more positive perceptions about their experiences and relationships which may influence susceptibility on burnout Merhi, et al. (2018). Scores high in agreeableness have been shown to correlate with high engagement and adaptation. Some studies have found that agreeableness correlates negatively with emotional exhaustion Bakker, et al. (2004). In a study that looked to predict dropout rate based off of engagement showed that students who were highly engaged had a negative correlation with burnout. Through a multiple regression analysis which showed that self-efficacy beliefs and engagement of studies may be the inverse of predicted burnout. Merhi, et al., (2018) Other studies have also found that self-efficacy and engagement have shown to have a negative relationship with burnout, Schaufeli & Salanova, (2007) and Schaufeli & De Witte, 2017).


  1. Bakker, A, Van der Zee, K, Lewig, K, & Dollard, M. (2006). The Relationship Between the Big Five Personality Factors and Burnout: A Study Among Volunteer Counselors. The Journal of social psychology. 31(50). DOI 10.3200/SOCP.146.1.31-50.
  2. Cham, Gan, Zhang, (2007). Perfectionism, academic burnout and engagement among Chinese college students: A structural equation modeling analysis. The International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, 43(6), 1529-1540
  3. DurKhan, (2018). Study of Impact of Personality Traits on Academic Performance of Management Students, Journal of Organisation and Human Behavior. 7(4), 31-56.
  4. Maslach, Leiter (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: Recent research and its implications for Psychiatry. The Journal of the World Psychiatric Association, 15(2), 103-111. doi: 10.1002/wps.20311
  5. Merhi, R, Sánchez-Elvira-Paniagua, A, Palací, F. J., (2018) , The Role of Psychological Strengths, Coping Strategies, and Well-being in the Prediction of Academic Engagement And Burnout in the First Year University Students, Action Psychology 15(2), 51-68
  6. Mkoji, D., Sikalieh, D., (2012). The Influence of Personality Dimensions on Organizational Performance. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(17), 184-194.
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The Relationship Between Academic Burnout and Personality Traits. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
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