Who do you care about? Scientists’ personality traits and perceived beneficiary impact

Óscar Llopis, Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro
Policymakers compel scientists to influence colleagues, corporations and non-commercial actors. In the current study, we examine the relationship between biomedical scientists’ psychological characteristics –personality traits and motivations– and their perceived impact on these different stakeholders. Taking the scientist as the main unit of analysis, we merge the organizational psychology and research evaluation literature to better understand the individual origins of societal impact. We also combine motivation and personality research with science policy studies to predict perceived beneficiary impact. Our focus is on biomedicine and its interest in and consequences for industry and patients, and we measure psychological characteristics through a large-scale survey. Openness to experience increases biomedical scientists’ perceived impact on the academic community, extraversion on industry and conscientiousness on patients. Accounting for these effects opens new paths for designing more effective policies regarding scientific mobility, allocation of research activities and incentive schemas.