2013. Vol.4, No.3, 159-164
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/psych) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2013.43023
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 159
Psychological Characteristics of Entrepreneurship of College
Students in China
Hua Zhang1, Ying Zhang2
1School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China
2School of Computer and Information Science & Software, Southwest University, Chongqing, China
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Received November 27th, 2012; revised January 6th, 2013; accepted February 4th, 2013
The study investigated the psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship of 829 college students in
China by questionnaire. The psychological characteristics include five aspects: entrepreneurial capacity,
entrepreneurial belief, entrepreneurial consciousness, entrepreneurial motivation, and entrepreneurial de-
termination. In the five factors, the entrepreneurial consciousness of college students is the highest, and
the other four are almost at the same level. There is significant difference on entrepreneurial belief, con-
sciousness, and motivation in different gender of students. Also there is significant difference on entre-
preneurial consciousness in different major students and on entrepreneurial motivation in different degree
students. However, the college students only with high entrepreneurial consciousness are not enough to
succeed in business. The other four psychological characteristics are not only essential to entrepreneur-
ship, but also necessary to their future professional development. College students should have a lot of
preparation and accumulation on the other four psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship, and give
much more effort to improve them.
Keywords: Psychological Characteristics; Entrepreneurship; College Students; Entrepreneurs
The entrepreneurship is more and more becoming an insepa-
rable part of the global DNA, and it should become reasonable,
or more self-evident choice (Schramm, 2009). Peter Drucker,
American management master, he pointed out, entrepreneurial
employment was one of the main driving force of economic
development in the United States and the core of the success of
its employment policy. In China, to ensure sustained economic
development and enhance the national innovation, and ease the
growing social pressure on employment, successful entrepre-
neurial activity is critical. College students are a vital force to
participate in entrepreneurial activities (Gong & Xie, 2009).
They will not only become job seekers, but also job creators.
How is the current situation of their entrepreneurship?
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report of
China in 2007, Chinese entrepreneurial activity had remained
active, full entrepreneurial index rose gradually from 12.3% in
2002 to 16.4% in 2007, and the main body of entrepreneurship
was still those who did not access to higher education (Yin,
2008). Although relevant national policies promote the entre-
preneurial enthusiasm of college graduates, the proportion of
their entrepreneurship is still very low. The failure of their en-
trepreneurship is the proportion of 99% (Jiang, 2010). Even
some policies supported, why are the college students not active
enough in entrepreneurship and easy to fail?
Facing the fierce competition in job market, college students
should find a new path and entrepreneurial employment is an
effective and challenging way. Maybe the college students do
not really understand the entrepreneurship. Developing entre-
preneurial skills and entrepreneurial spirit of college students
must become the basic objectives of higher education (Gong &
Xie, 2009). If college students want to succeed in business, the
external environment will be very important, but the most fun-
damental is that what kind of psychological characteristics they
should have. We explored the psychological characteristics of
entrepreneurship of college students on the basis of study about
The entrepreneurship referred to that one or more individuals
braved the economic risks creating new organizations, and used
new technologies or innovative technology to create value for
others (Schramm, 2006). Similarly, the entrepreneurship was to
find and capture opportunities, create innovative products, ser-
vices, and achieve their potential value (Hisrich, 2006). Nearly
two decades, the entrepreneurship of college students have been
attracted many scholars. The people should master the three
“education passport”, the first is the academic passport, that is
cultural and scientific knowledge; the second is the professional
passport, that is, professional knowledge and technology; the
third is proving a person’s sense of professionalism and the
ability to open up, that is entrepreneurship education passport.
If a person does not have the third passport, his academic and
professional knowledge and technology will not play well, even
nothing (Zhang, Yu, Fan et al., 2011).
Psychological Characteristics of Entrepreneurs
Certain personality traits will contribute to the choice of en-
trepreneurship and its ultimate success. By the questionnaire,
entrepreneurs were found that their achievement motivation,
risk-taking tendency, innovative score were significantly higher
H. ZHANG, Y. ZHANG
than the other two groups, managers and working-class (Car-
land, Hoy, Boulton et al., 1984). Another study also used the
questionnaire and compared the personality of entrepreneurs
and ordinary people (the unemployed, retirees, students, women)
and working-class, found that entrepreneurs had higher levels
of individual responsibility and hard-working quality (Beugels-
dijk & Noorderhaven, 2005). Five personalities of entrepre-
neurs were put forward in one book named the cause of revolu-
tion, i.e. willing to take the risk; can distinguish good business
ideas; the determination and confidence; resolute courage;
willing to work longer to achieve success (Jiang, 2010).
The researchers also explored their cognitive characteristics
of the entrepreneurship (Yan, Ye, & Chen, 2008). Individual’s
perception and interpretation of style, access to information,
decision-making played an important role in the entrepreneur-
ship, and the influence of individual cognitive style on oppor-
tunity recognition, risk identification, as well as the characteris-
tics of cognitive changes in various start-up stage were clarified
(Mitchell, 2002). Scholars proposed application the entrepre-
neurial cognition research to explore how entrepreneurs think
and make decisions, and pointed out that the possession of in-
formation and individual cognitive nature were two important
factors for the decision of entrepreneurs to grasp entrepreneu-
rial opportunities (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). In summary,
entrepreneur’s unique psychological qualities generally include:
achievement motivation, risk-taking tendency, innovation, lo-
cus of control, selfefficacy, leadership qualities, responsibility,
openness to experience (Stewart, Warren Jr. et al., 1997; Wi-
jbenga & van Witteloostuijn, 2007). These study provided a
reference for the psychological characteristics of entrepreneur-
ship of college students.
Psychologi cal Charac ter i st i cs of Entrepreneurship of
In China, the study of psychological characteristics of entre-
preneurship of college students mainly referred to the quality.
The quality determined the success or failure of college stu-
dents’ entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial qualities included the
personality qualities, intellectual quality, cultural quality, men-
tal quality and physical quality (Liu, 2002). The entrepreneurial
quality of the college students were divided into four aspects:
the first was entrepreneurial ideas, including the desire, deter-
mination, enthusiasm, responsibility, spirit of adventure and
entrepreneurship concept; the second was entrepreneurial ca-
pacity, including the organization and management capabili-
ties, ability of high efficiency to work, interpersonal skills,
capability of responding emergency, innovation, insight force,
the relevant technical expertise and excellent thinking skills, etc;
the third was entrepreneurial characteristics, including physical
and psychological quality and responsibility; the fourth was
entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, including mastering rele-
vant policies ,regulations and theory (social, occupational, etc.)
knowledge and skills on entrepreneurship (Chen, Lei, & Cao,
Some scholars studied the problem from other perspectives.
The entrepreneurial consciousness of college students included
entrepreneurial emotion, entrepreneurial needs and motivations,
entrepreneurial value, entrepreneurial risk and entrepreneurial
quality, and the main content of the consciousness was entre-
preneurial emotion (Li, Z., Li, X. F., & Wan, 2010). The entre-
preneurial competency model of college students consisted of
three dimension that was learning ability, relationships ability
and concepts ability (Zhang, Yang, & Fan, 2010).
However, where the psychological characteristics of suc-
cessful entrepreneurship do stem from? How to make them
more effective and more meaningful? We will start with the
psychological characteristics of successful entrepreneurs build-
ing entrepreneurial theory of college students.
The psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship mean
one’s psychological factors of starting in business successfully.
We studied it by the questionnaire. The questionnaire items had
the following four sources: firstly, we created the theoretical
conception of psychological characteristics of successful entre-
preneurship. Then, we interviewed 5 college students who were
in successful entrepreneurship, and collected some views about
psychological characteristics of successful entrepreneurship.
Subsequently, the interview or autobiography of many suc-
cessful entrepreneurs was studied, and some psychological
characteristics were summarized. Lastly, previous research on
entrepreneurship gave a reference for it. After the items were
collected, some experts were invited to evaluate them in small
symposium. Then 50 items of Liket 5 point self rating scale
were determined after several modifications and adjustments.
These items were arranged randomly, and asked twenty suc-
cessful entrepreneurs evaluate them, and choose only one in
five answers from “very important”, “more important”, “in
general”, “less important”, “not important”. The answer was
accordingly scored by 5 to 1 points. 34 items were chose which
80% entrepreneurs (16 entrepreneurs) evaluated more than 4
points and the questionnaire was compiled.
The questionnaire survey was conducted with random sam-
pling method, and the participants were college students from
six colleges or universities in Chongqing and Chengdu in China.
829 valid questionnaires were collected.
Exploratory Factor Analysis
The applicability test of exploratory factor analysis was
conducted, and the results showed that the KMO value was
0.908, and the value of Bartlett test was 7476.750 (df = 561, p =
0.000). There were common factors in the correlation matrix of
groups and suitable for factor analysis.
Five factors were extracted by the method of principal com-
ponent analysis and orthogonal rotation according to the Eigen
value rules, gravel inspection rules, and the original theoretical
conception. The items which the value of the factor loadings
was less than 0.3 were deleted. Also the item which the value of
the factor loadings was greater than 0.3 simultaneously in the
above two factors were deleted. The 31 items were ultimately
retained, and they could explain 42.258% of the total variance
(see Table 1).
Overall Analysis on Psychological Characteristics of
Entrepreneurship of College Students
From Table 2, we can see the 5 factors and their corre-
sponding items. The first factor named entrepreneurial capacity
includes 10 items. The second factor named entrepreneurial
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
H. ZHANG, Y. ZHANG
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 161
The value of the factor loadings and contribution of various factors of psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship.
Factors Eigen value Item numbers Factor loading values Contribution rate
Entrepreneurial capacity 8.132 10 0.467 - 0.648 23.917%
Entrepreneurial belief 1.888 7 0.430 - 0.634 5.554%
Entrepreneurial consciousness 1.796 5 0.504 - 0.651 5.283%
Entrepreneurial motivation 1.290 5 0.487 - 0.765 3.793%
Entrepreneurial determination 1.262 4 0.318 - 0.693 3.711%
Psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship of college students (N = 829).
Factors Items Mean and std. deviation
To complete the task, I always make plans in advance. 3.48 ± 0.96
I do things proactively. 3.54 ± 0.84
For completed tasks, I am good at learning lessons. 3.63 ± 0.89
I cooperate well with others. 3.79 ± 0.78
Things planned, I must put into action. 3.60 ± 0.84
I am good at listening to others’ opinions or recommendations. 3.87 ± 0.83
I have a resilient toughness. 3.70 ± 0.88
I like to participate in community activities. 3.18 ± 0.98
I pay attention to supplement the knowledge outside of the professional. 3.42 ± 0.94
I pay attention to exercise management ability. 3.44 ± 0.98
3.57 ± 0.54
I have strong mental capacity. 3.67 ± 0.91
I do not easily yield to the difficulties. 3.72 ± 0.83
Facing setbacks, I am not discouraged. 3.62 ± 0.89
If the entrepreneurship fails, I will face it bravely. 3.57 ± 1.00
I like to meet the challenges. 3.54 ± 0.90
I keep an optimistic attitude towards life. 3.91 ± 0.88
I do not like to be ordered by others to finish the work. 3.69 ± 0.97
3.67 ± 0.57
I think that the entrepreneurship needs great courage. 4.12 ± 0.93
I think that the entrepreneurship is necessary to take risks. 4.03 ± 0.91
I think that the entrepreneurship should have a strong sense of competition. 4.11 ± 0.87
I think that innovation is the important condition for successful entrepreneurship. 3.93 ± 0.90
I pay attention to build my own credibility. 4.34 ± 0.78
4.11 ± 0.58
I have been concerned about the entrepreneurship-related information. 2.98 ± 0.97
The entrepreneurship will enable me to fully display my abilities. 3.59 ± 0.90
The entrepreneurship is my dream. 3.08 ± 1.18
I have no dull attitude towards life. 3.75 ± 1.07
The entrepreneurship can realize my own value. 3.61 ± 1.01
3.40 ± 0.70
I am willing to work longer to achieve success. 3.96 ± 0.89
I think that the entrepreneurship should never give oneself a escape route. 2.96 ± 1.10
I do a lot of decisions later proved to be correct. 3.40 ± 0.84
For any chance, I first perceived its advantages rather than disadvantages. 3.57 ± 0.98
3.47 ± 0.60
H. ZHANG, Y. ZHANG
belief includes 7 items. The third factor named entrepreneurial
consciousness includes 5 items. The fourth factor named entre-
preneurial motivation includes 5 items. The fifth factor named
entrepreneurial determination includes 4 items.
In the five factors, the mean of entrepreneurial consciousness
is the highest, and more than 4. The students have a positive
understanding of entrepreneurship, and courage, taking risks,
sense of competition and innovation are indispensible to entre-
The means of last four factors are almost at the same level,
from 3.40 to 3.67, and less than 4. The means of items of entre-
preneurial belief are almost close to the mean of the factor. In
the factor of entrepreneurial capacity, the means of some items
are relatively low, such as participating in community activities,
supplementing the knowledge outside of the professional, exer-
cising management ability, and making plans in advance. That
capacity is not only essential to entrepreneurship, but also nec-
essary to their future professional development. However, they
give less effort to improve this capacity.
In the factor of entrepreneurial motivation, the means of
some items are relatively low, such as “The entrepreneurship is
my dream”, “I have been concerned about the entrepreneur-
ship-related information”. The mean of the later is even less
than 3. These students are not keen on entrepreneurship, and are
not ready for it.
From Table 2, we also can see that in the factor of entrepre-
neurial determination, the mean of the item of “I think that the
entrepreneurship should never give oneself an escape route” is
only 2.96, less than 3. The mean of the item of “I do a lot of
decisions later proved to be correct” is also relatively low.
Many students are lack of real courage for entrepreneurship,
and maybe they just want to try, are not really determined, and
they do not exercise their decision-making ability.
Difference Analysis on Psychological Characteristics
of Entrepreneurship of Different Types of Students
There is significant difference on certain factors in different
types of students in colleges. Table 3 lists psychological char-
acteristics of entrepreneurship of different gender of students in
colleges. There is significant difference on three factors in dif-
ferent gender of students (p < 0.005, p < 0.01).The entrepre-
neurial belief of male students is significantly higher than fe-
male students’. Their entrepreneurial motivation is also sig-
nificantly higher than female students’. But in entrepreneurial
consciousness, female students are significantly higher than
Table 4 lists psychological characteristics of entrepreneur-
ship of different major of students in colleges. There is signifi-
cant difference on entrepreneurial consciousness in different
major of students (p < 0.005), and students of the arts major are
significantly higher than the students of the science major.
Table 5 lists psychological characteristics of entrepreneur-
ship of different degree of students in colleges. There is sig-
nificant difference on entrepreneurial consciousness in different
degree of students (p < 0.005), and junior college students are
significantly higher than the undergraduate students.
The Entrepreneurial Consciousness of College
Students Is Strong, bu t They Are Lack o f
Preparation for Entrep r e n eurship
From the means of psychological characteristics of entrepre-
neurship, the entrepreneurial consciousness is the highest. The
other four factors are almost at the same level. The entrepre-
neurial consciousness includes awareness and attitudes on en-
trepreneurship of college students. It plays an important role on
the entrepreneurship, and only college students have it, they
will understand entrepreneurship, pay attention to it, and try to
realize their business. But only this characteristic is not enough
to succeed in business and a lot of preparation and accumula-
tion are necessary.
One survey found 694 college students had the following
characteristics by the method of questionnaire in 10 universities
in China: they had distinctive characteristics of opportunity on
entrepreneurial need and motivation; they had a good entrepre-
neurial spirit and a strong entrepreneurial desire, but were lack
of the entrepreneurial quality, their own entrepreneurial prepa-
Psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship of different gender of students in colleges.
Factors Gender N Mean and std. deviation t
Male 365 3.60 ± 0.56
Female 464 3.54 ± 0.53
t = 1.784
Male 365 3.74 ± 0.60
Female 464 3.63 ± 0.55
t = 2.763**
Male 365 4.02 ± 0.62
Female 464 4.17 ± 0.53
t = −3.842***
Male 365 3.48 ± 0.72
Female 464 3.34 ± 0.69
t = 2.680**
Male 365 3.48 ± 0.64
Female 464 3.47 ± 0.57
t = 0.268
Note: ***p < 0.005; **p < 0.01; *p < 0.05.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
H. ZHANG, Y. ZHANG
Psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship of different major of students in colleges.
Factors Major N Mean and std. deviation t
Science 259 3.54 ± 0.58
Arts 569 3.58 ± 0.53
t = −0.778
Science 259 3.68 ± 0.62
Arts 569 3.67 ± 0.55
t = 0.224
Science 259 3.99 ± 0.62
Arts 569 4.16 ± 0.55
t = −4.025***
Science 259 3.41 ± 0.72
Arts 569 3.40 ± 0.70
t = 0.202
Science 259 3.50 ± 0.67
Arts 569 3.46 ± 0.57
t = 0.830
Note: ***p < 0.005; **p < 0.01; *p < 0.05.
Psychological characteristics of successful entrepreneurship of different degree of students in colleges.
Factors Degree N Mean and std. deviation t
Junior college 146 3.53 ± 0.55
Undergraduate 683 3.57 ± 0.54
t = −0.946
Junior college 146 3.73 ± 0.52
Undergraduate 683 3.66 ± 0.58
t = 1.344
Junior college 146 4.15 ± 0.56
Undergraduate 683 4.10 ± 0.58
t = 1.072
Junior college 146 3.57 ± 0.66
Undergraduate 683 3.37 ± 0.71
t = 3.176***
Junior college 146 3.44 ± 0.59
Undergraduate 683 3.48 ± 0.60
t = −0.811
Note: ***p < 0.005; **p < 0.01; *p < 0.05.
ration and skills (Fei, 2009).In the above data, we also found
the mean of entrepreneurial capacity is very low, such as par-
ticipating in community activities, and so on. In fact, partici-
pating in community activities can improve students’ social
ability, especially the interpersonal communication skills. The
social ability is the main guarantee of succeeding in business
and the core ability of the entrepreneurship (Fu, Xie, & Lan,
2009).Interpersonal communication skills should be focused on
the cultivation of entrepreneurial ability (Gao & Duan, 2009).
Greenberger & sexton (1988) pointed out the following five
reasons of entrepreneurship: firstly, they identified opportuni-
ties in the market; secondly, They believed that their manage-
ment will be more efficient than others; thirdly, They have the
expertise to develop into a career; fourthly, they had developed
a product or service, and these can find a niche in the market;
lastly, They believed that other opportunities were limited and
entrepreneurship was the only way (Wang, 2007).In the entre-
preneurial determination, the item of “I think that the entrepre-
neurship should never give oneself a escape route”, similar to
the last reason, has the lowest score. Visibly, the college stu-
dents do not have a real determination.
Some college students’ entrepreneurship succeeded, and they
consciously develop their own entrepreneurial capacity in the
campus. Some students paid attention to newspapers and maga-
zines on entrepreneurship and market analysis reports, and
accumulated experience in the social survey of the holiday (Le
& Du, 2011). In the entrepreneurial motivation, the item of “I
have been concerned about the entrepreneurship-related infor-
mation” has very low score, and students do not value it. So
they should get adequate guidance, and successful entrepre-
neurs teaching their experience, visiting the successful business,
and entrepreneurship simulation training should be imple-
mented in colleges.
Psychologi cal Charac ter i st i cs of Entrepreneurship of
Different Types of Students in Colleges
Except the entrepreneurial consciousness, male students are
higher than female students in the other factors. Female stu-
dents have high entrepreneurial consciousness, the other prepa-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 163
H. ZHANG, Y. ZHANG
ration lower than male students. According to the Global En-
trepreneurship Monitor Report of China in 2010, the entrepre-
neurial activities of male students were higher than female col-
lege students. Women are more like to pursue a stable life, and
the entrepreneurship has high risk. While men are willing to
create their own business through their own efforts, to satisfy
their own sense of achievement, even going to risk (Lu & Wu,
However, when male and female entrepreneurs were goal-
oriented and had the experience and enthusiasm, there were no
effect of gender on entrepreneurial behavior (Hisrich & Peter,
1989).Women and immigrants were more inclined to the entre-
preneurial career path than men, or the United States citizens
(O’Reilly & Chatman 1994).
In entrepreneurial consciousness, students of the arts major
are significantly higher than the students of the science major.
Maybe students of the arts major have more thinking on this
factor than the students of the science major, so they score
higher on entrepreneurial consciousness. Junior college stu-
dents are significantly higher than the undergraduate students
on entrepreneurial motivation, and the former are more likely to
succeed in the business than the latter. Entrepreneurs without
college education are prone to failure than the entrepreneurs
who have received college education (Lussier, 1995). Higher
degree does not mean the more success, however, it has a great
impact on entrepreneurial direction, especially in hightech in-
Psychological characteristics of entrepreneurship of college
students by the exploratory factor analysis include five aspects:
entrepreneurial capacity, entrepreneurial belief, entrepreneurial
consciousness, entrepreneurial motivation, and entrepreneurial
determination. In the five factors, the mean of entrepreneurial
consciousness is the highest; the other four factors are almost at
the same level. Those psychological characteristics are not only
essential to entrepreneurship, but also necessary to their future
professional development. However, they give less effort to
improve and train them. There is some difference on psycho-
logical characteristics of entrepreneurship in different types of
students in colleges, such as gender, major, degree, and so on.
The research is supported by the Fundamental Research
Funds for the Central Universities (XDJK2009C167), 211 Pro-
ject, National Key Discipline of Basic Psychology, Southwest
University (NSKD11019). I would like to address my highly
appreciation and thanks to it.
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