Whose Job Will Be Taken Over by a Computer? The Role of Personality in Predicting Job Computerizability over the Lifespan

Rodica Ioana Damian, Marion Spengler, Brent W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Economists estimate that 47% of US jobs will be computerized in the future. This paper tests the prospective role of a comprehensive range personality factors on selection into more (or less) computerizable jobs. We used a US representative high school sample (N = 346 660) and a longitudinal design. At baseline, we measured social background, intelligence, personality traits and vocational interests. In two follow-ups (11 and 50 years later), we recorded occupations and coded their probability of being computerized based on the skills required and technological developments. Multiple regressions showed that, regardless of social background, people who were more intelligent, mature, interested in arts, and sciences at baseline, and selected into jobs that had a lower probability of computerization. On average, a one standard deviation increase in each of these traits predicted an average of 4 percentage points drop in the probability of one's job of being computerized. At the US population level, this is equivalent with saving 5.8 million people from losing their future careers to computerization. Most effects replicated across time. Path analyses showed that educational attainment mediated these effects and some direct effects remained. This highlights the importance of personality on occupational selection and in shaping the labour market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-310
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • educational attainment
  • job computerizability
  • personality
  • socio-economic status
  • vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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