Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Heather Antecol

Rights Information

© 2011 Marika May


This paper examines the effect of psychological traits on earnings and furthermore whether it helps explain the gender wage gap. Public-use data collected from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health is used to evaluate the impact on earnings on seven psychological factors: masculine traits, self esteem, analytical problem solving approach, willingness to work hard, impulsiveness, problem avoidance, and self-assessed intelligence. Findings show that gender differences in psychological traits are significant and returns to observable characteristics differ somewhat by gender as well. Among the young sample of U.S. employees evaluated in this study, I find that up to 21 percent of the gender wage gap can be explained, with psychological factors specifically explaining up to 1.5 percent of this gap.