University of Minnesota Alumni Association



"Personality Matters", "Heat Stress", "Support for Diverse Teams"

Personality Matters

Recent research from the U of M shows surprising links between personality and cognitive abilities.

To determine how these traits influence each other, psychology Professor Deniz Ones and researcher Kevin Stanek (M.A. ’12, Ph.D. ’14) synthesized data from more than 1,300 studies from the past century, representing more than 2 million participants from 50 countries. They also integrated data from academic journals, test manuals, military databases, previously unpublished datasets, and even proprietary databases of private companies. Their work took 13 years and involved more than 30 volunteers.

Key findings include:

Individuals who are active and energetic tend to have a better command of various cognitive abilities. Regardless of subject, active folks tend to know more about it. 

People with high levels of depression or anxiety may find it more difficult to accumulate knowledge or reason logically.

Those who were more industrious and compassionate tended to have better verbal and quantitative knowledge skills. This suggests a connection between personality traits and how we learn.

“Knowing how personality and intelligence are related allows us to ponder the much deeper question of why,” says Ones. “These findings revolutionize our understanding of human diversity and individuality. Only by knowing ourselves can we fully tap into our potential.”

This research was published in the May 30 edition of PNAS, the publication of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

Heat Stress for Cows


For cows, heat stress can lead to health complications, including impaired immune function, increased disease and death rates, and lower calf birth weights. It can also lower milk production and decrease pregnancy rates, which can lead to financial hardship for dairy producers.

Researchers at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences have developed a comprehensive model that can identify the conditions that lead to lactating cow heat stress. Building on previous research, this new model reports the heat exchange between a lactating cow and the environment through respiration, air flowing past the cow, sweating, and shortwave and longwave radiation. This data can assess a host of factors, including milk yield, air temperature, dew-point temperature, cow respiration rates, and body temperature.

Researchers hope this work will help dairy producers cool their cows more efficiently. “Engineers will be able to use the model to better assess alternative cooling designs,” says Kevin Janni, a professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering and an Extension engineer.

This research first appeared in the journal of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Support for Diverse Teams

As organizations work to better reflect the diverse communities they represent, research from the Carlson School of Management shows that diverse teams may be more vulnerable to adversity.

Assistant Professor Xuege (Cathy) Lu and her colleagues used professional men’s tennis as a case study. They wanted to examine what happens to diverse teams faced with adversity, in this case losing in the first round of an Association of Tennis Professionals match, to try to understand why people tend to interact with others with similar backgrounds.

Comparing 10,000 doubles pairs from 99 countries, researchers found teams made up of men from different countries were 6 percent more likely to break up after a first-round loss than pairs made up of fellow countrymen. Players who left a two-country pair were also more likely to switch to a partner of the same nationality.

“After facing adversity, there appears to be this tendency to return to what’s familiar,” says Lu, who notes that organizations committed to a diverse workforce should devote additional resources to promote collaboration. “People have to be mindful when setbacks happen, a diverse team may be more susceptible to falling apart. Increasing mutual trust could help strengthen the resiliency of the partnership.”

This study first appeared in the March 24 issue of Sociological Science

Our thanks to the team at University Relations for their help compiling and writing these briefs.

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