The American Dream is that any individual, not regarding family background, can achieve what they desire, in terms of life, economic liberty, and happiness. An indication of the American dream would be if individual adult personality traits predicted life outcomes better than childhood background.
A sample of the Swedish population, representative in age, sex, and occupation (N = 5,280) was 2012 measured on adult personality traits, childhood socioeconomic status (SES), and 3 life outcomes – education, income, and life outcome satisfaction.
Childhood SES accounted for almost twice the disattenuated variance (22%) compared to personality (12%) in educational attainment, while personality accounted for almost twice the variance (12%) compared to childhood SES (7%) in annual income. Life outcome satisfaction was only predicted by personality (37%) and not by childhood SES (0%). Moreover, particularly the traits extraversion and neuroticism showed a full compensating catch-up effect on high childhood SES in annual income.
Expressions of personality may be growing in predictive importance and constitute a societal trademark of the American dream being present. Sweden is a renowned progressive, individualistic, and egalitarian country, which could make the results of wide-reaching interest.
2nd World Conference on Personality Psychology, March 31 to April 04, 2016, Búzios, Brazil