A great education and smarts will go a long way in being paid a fair wage, but it turns out that being a totally relaxed extrovert helps a lot, too.
A study from The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization in 2013 looks at various effects of personality on employment and wages, and comes up with some fascinating answers. The study examines siblings–including many twins–that are part of a study called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study tracks participants over many years, measuring their cognitive skills and taking note of earnings, age, gender, race, and family background, among other things.
The result, after controlling for factors like gender and race? An increase in extroversion significantly raises the prospect of both employment and salary increase (by approximately $2,000 per year for one standard deviation in extroversion). Conversely, being neurotic decreases chances for employment and high earnings. It also helps to be attractive–having above-average attractiveness increases employment and high salary chances, while being a below-average-looking person decreases those chances.
We often think about economic inequality being passed down through generations, but the study author posits that personality inequality may also be passed down. Personality is a highly heritable trait (up to 60%, according to an estimate cited in the paper), so if shyness or neuroticism is passed down, that affects the chances for members of a family to have high-paying jobs.
This is, of course, bad news for all the shy neurotics out there. But there is a revolution brewing: Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, is attempting to lead an introvert movement with a new startup called Quiet Revolution, which will at least provide a way for the shy among us to connect and, hopefully, make more money.