Exploring temperament and character traits in nurses and nursing students in a large regional area of Australia

Diann Eley, Rob Eley, Louise Young, Cath Rogers-Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To describe individual temperament and character trait profiles associated with nurses and nursing students in a large regional health district and university in Australia. Background: Identification of personality characteristics have been undertaken in most professions; however there is little extant literature on nurses which looks at specific aspects of temperament and character. Design: A cross-sectional quantitative study of nurses and nursing students in a large regional health service district and university in South East Queensland, Australia. Method: An online survey to nurses and nursing students included a demographic questionnaire and the temperament and character inventory (TCI) to identify levels of the seven basic dimensions of temperament and character. Univariate analysis made multiple and covariate comparisons between TCI scores, nurses, students, working status and age. Results: The target number of responses was exceeded and totalled 451. Results are reported for females who comprised 90% of respondents; 53.5% students and 46.5% nurses. Significant main effects for age and student status were detected in several temperament and character inventory dimensions. Working students had significantly different temperament and character profiles compared to non-working students.Conclusions. Overall, this sample displays levels of temperament and character traits congruent with a profession requiring high levels of persistence, self-directedness, cooperativeness and reward dependence. Our findings prompt further investigation of whether individuals with the requisite temperament traits are attracted to nursing, or do individuals develop certain character traits as a product of their professional experiences/training. Relevance to clinical practice: The identification of distinct profiles of temperament and character traits among different nursing roles may provide insight into what traits are conducive to retention of nurses in these roles. The predictive potential of the temperament traits plus the modifiable component of character traits may provide scope for nursing educators and policy-makers to assist in recruitment and retention of nurses in the workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-570
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Character
  • Nurses
  • Nursing students
  • Personality
  • Temperament
  • Workforce


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