Personality and pay: Do gender gaps in confidence explain gender gaps in wages?

Leonora Risse, Lisa Farrell, Tim R.L. Fry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores whether gender patterns in personality traits contribute to the gender gap in hourly wage rates, focusing on traits that reflect an individual's confidence to take on a challenge. To capture confidence, we use a psychological measurement known as Achievement Motivation, which is dually comprised of 'hope for success' and 'fear of failure'. This personality dimension is examined in addition to the Big Five personality traits and Locus of Control (LOC). Using 2013 wage data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, our Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition model reveals that men's stronger hope for success, lower fear of failure and lower agreeableness contribute to the gender wage gap, while women's higher level of conscientiousness is the only trait that serves to narrow it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-949
Number of pages31
JournalOxford Economic Papers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


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