Your personality is your best defence against losing your job to a robot

Scared of losing your job to a robot? We all are. But psychologists at the University of Houston believe they've begun to figure out who's most at risk.

In a study of 346,660 people, a team led by assistant professor of social and personality psychology Rodica Damian looked at personality traits and vocational interests in adolescence, along with intelligence and socioeconomic status.

“We found that regardless of social background, people with higher levels of intelligence, higher levels of maturity and extraversion, higher interests in arts and sciences … tended to select (or be selected) into less computeriseable jobs 11 and 50 years later,” the team wrote in a paper published in the European Journal of Personality. 

Not Optimal

 Every 15-point increase in IQ predicted a seven percent drop in the probability of a job being computerised, while an increase in maturity or in scientific interests also lessens the likelihood of losing you job to robots.

The findings, the researchers say, suggest that a traditional education may not be optimal for coming changes in the nature of work. However they did acknowledge that the educational system has already changed substantially since the survey participants were at school (in the 1960s).

“Perhaps we should consider training personality characteristics that will help prepare people for future jobs,” she said, suggesting that people could be guided towards better social interactions, industrious behaviour or interest in activities related to arts and sciences.

“By preparing more people, at least more people will have a fighting chance.” 

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.