July 12, 2016

Under the lab coat: personal traits of a scientist

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V Formation’s Jose Gonzalez explores the common personal traits among scientists and what this means for business when taking a piece of research into a commercial environment. V Formation Jose Gonzalez

Science has been one of the most influential components of human culture. To observe a phenomenon, formulate a question, develop a possible explanation and prove it, are skills innate in every person. However, some people are more drawn to the life of research and this is not necessarily related to intelligence, but to very specific personal traits.

In a 2012 paper, Gregory J. Feist, from the San Jose State University in the US, describes the personal traits that are consistent between scientists. Awareness of this unique blend of characteristics is important as it allows people to know how to get along with these highly skilled people when undertaking an entrepreneurial project. Among these characteristics the following can be found:

  • Conscientiousness: This trait refers to the desire for order, organisation and punctuality. A high level of conscientiousness allows scientists to keep well-administrated laboratories and efficiently plan experiments.
  • Openness: Openness to experience is made up of traits such as ‘aesthetic’, ‘creative’, ‘curious,’ ‘flexible,’ ‘imaginative,’ and ‘intelligent’. These features have to be put into a scientific context though. The open person is curious about the world and is flexible enough to adopt different approaches to solve problems. New discoveries always surprise so people who are able to drive these surprises are necessary.
  • Introversion and Independence: Scientists, when compared to non-scientists, prefer to be alone and are somehow less social and less affiliative. According to Feist, “scientists seem to have relatively low thresholds for social stimulation, and therefore prefer somewhat solitary activity or small group interactions”.

This combination of interesting traits is usually true for high achieving scientists; therefore, it is important for them to find business partners that can contribute other skills that they may not inherently possess. A business oriented environment requires social interactions and activities that might be difficult for a scientist to cope with. This does not necessarily mean that a scientist cannot develop these social and networking abilities; nonetheless, the learning curve can feel like an inconvenient distraction from the business of science.

Sometimes the business oriented person does not understand the personal needs of somebody with this profile. This being said, on my next blog entry the do’s and don’ts of working and blending with a genuinely introverted person will be described.

V Formation specialises in working closely with talented scientists to provide the commercial and communications expertise that helps them to effectively pursue their desired goals. For help or advice with the strategic or tactical marketing for your business, contact our Life Sciences marketing specialist Sue Carr on 07809 727533 or click here to email.


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