Desirable psychological characteristics of medical students: A convergent approach

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Burstein, Alvin G. (Alvin George), 1931-
Lawlis, G. Frank

Burstein, A. G., Lawlis, G. F. (1976). Desirable Psychological Characteristics of Medical Students: A Convergent Approach. Multivariate Experimental Clinical Research, 2(4), 173-187.


In these studies, we explore two hypotheses concerning psychological characteristics of medical school applicants. The first was that consensus would exist on the medical school faculty with respect to desirable psychological characteristics of applicants. With only minor differences between specialties, three factors emerge, self-discipline, psychosocial orientation, and brightness. The second hypothesis was the peer description could be elicited from resident physicians which could then be related to peer ratings of excellence and to a type of self-report potentially useful in a selection situation. Two samples were utilized in exploring this hypothesis. One hundred sixteen freshman medical students and forty-two residents were tested and compared on objective self-reports. In addition, each resident was asked to rate his or her peers as to skill as a physician and indepedently to develop descriptive constructs for discriminating their peers into meaningful groups. The most striking finding is that one trait, the need to understand, is related to all forms of physician excellence, though that characteristics is unrelated to MCAT and GPA in the range of selected applicants. Cluster analysis reveals three personality types: gratification oriented, control oriented, and loners; however, no type related to overall excellence as a physician.

Table of Content