The study showed that specific behavior in high school had long-lasting effects in one's later life regardless of IQ and parental socioeconomic status, Xinhua reported.
The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The research analyzed decades of data collected from 346,660 US high school students by the American Institutes for Research beginning in 1960, along with follow-up data from 81,912 of those students 11 years later and 1,952 of them 50 years later.
High school participants were originally tested on academic, cognitive and behavioral characteristics in 1960 and also responded to follow-up surveys in later years.
The new analysis looked at the initial student tests and their responses 11 years and 50 years later.
Of the 1,952 participants randomly selected from those who responded to surveys 50 years later, those who showed more interest in high school and had higher writing skills reported earning higher incomes, and they also tended to have higher occupational prestige than their peers when they showed responsible behaviors as a student.
Further analyses revealed that education was likely the factor mediating the relationship between high school behavior and later success in life.
"It seems that these early individual differences are relevant across the life span through the lens of education," the researchers wrote.
While the study kept track of participants over a period of 50 years, the methods used only point to an association between factors and outcomes and do not prove that good behavior in high school inevitably leads to career success later in life.
"This study does, however, highlight the possibility that certain behaviors at crucial periods could have long-term consequences for a person's life," said the researchers.