Out-of-class experiences best predict personality development during the college years
We evaluated individual and institutional predictors of personality development during the 4-year college career. Development was indexed using the General Causality Orientations scale (Deci & Ryan, 1985b), and was defined as increased autonomy orientation (GCOS-A) and decreased control and impersonal orientations (GCOS-C and GCOS-I). Freshman intrinsic aspirations predicted reduced GCOS-C and reduced GCOS-I, whereas extrinsic aspirations predicted increased GCOS-C and reduced GCOS-I. Among institutional factors, perceived quality of extra- (or co-) curricular activity involvement was the only predictor of increased GCOS-A, and also predicted reduced GCOS-I. Perceived quality of in-class/major activities had no effects, and neither did perceived quality of academic advising. However, belonging to a Greek organization predicted reduced GCOS-C and GCOS-I. Discussion considers why extra-curricular activities may be so important for autonomy and personality development.