CHAPTER THREE – Personality Traits: Practical Matters
What’s Missing from the Five Factors?
If adjectives that describe physical characteristics, demographics, unusual behaviours
(evil, cruel), and other adjectives not typically used to describe personality are
eliminated, there are 10 possible candidates for more factor clusters:
Religious, devout, reverent
Sly, deceptive, manipulative
Honest, ethical, moral
Sexy, sensual, erotic
Thrifty, frugal, miserly
Conservative, traditional, down-to-earth
Egotistical, conceited, snobbish
Humorous, witty, amusing
Risk taking, thrill seeking
Is Intelligence a personality trait?
Generally, no. However,
Cattel identified traits likes memory, mathematical, ability, intelligence. Early on,
Openness was thought to include intelligence. Other studies find that adjectives
like intelligent and knowledgeable are more likely to fall under Conscientiousness
When people rate themselves on ‘intelligence’, they are generally thinking of
things like ‘rational’ and ‘logical’ etc. These are different from cognitive ability or
IQ. It looks like being seen as hardworking, motivated, etc. means that people
assume that someone else is high on IQ but they may not be.
There is evidence that people perceive and deal with the world differently =
Is Religiosity a Personality Trait?
Religion isn’t usually included in psych research. Especially personality psychology –
still there seems to be correlations between religiosity and Agreeableness,
Conscientiousness and sometimes Openness/Extraversion (depending on the religion).
Spiritual transcendence: ability of individuals’ to ‘stand outside of their immediate sense
of time and place to view life from a larger, more objective perspective’ This led to the creation of the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (STS). It has three
facets: Prayer Fulfillment (feelings of joy and contentedness from connection with
the transcendent); Universality (seeing humanity as a single interrelated whole
such that harming one harms the whole); Connectedness (feeling belongingness
to and social responsibility and gratitude for others across generations and social
Tests done with the NEO-PI-R revealed that the three transcendent scales were only
slightly related to score on the five factors. Further factor analysis revealed six
independent factors = one for each of the five and one for spiritual transcendence.
= spiritual transcendence may be separate from the five.
Spirituality can probably be considered an important part of personality. Whether it is a
trait, dimension, or something else, still has to be researched.
Is Sexuality a Personality Trait?
Words that described aspects of sexuality or more applicable to one gender over the
other were originally excluded from lexical studies. This led to the near total omission of
individual differences sexuality-wise.
Sexy Seven: 7 sexuality-related factors – Sexual Attractiveness, Relationship
Exclusivity, Gender Orientation, Sexual Restraint, Erotophilic Disposition, Emotional
Investment, Sexual Orientation.
However, it was found that these factors overlap about 80% with the five factors.
This meant that sexuality could be accounted for by a combination of factors and
facets of the factors, making it a non-separate personality trait.
The five factor taxonomy relies on measures primarily developed in the US. They may
adequately explain personality in other cultures but they may miss some factors.
Philotimo: (Greek) polite, generous, responsible, respectful, strong sense of honour.
Filial piety: (Chinese) caring for the physical/mental well-being of elderly family
members, continuing family line, and bring honour to one’s family.
Amae: (Japanese) Person who has a strong social obligation to take care of others
Cheong: (Korean) human affection Hishkama karma: (Indian) detachment
Simpatia: (Mexican) avoidance of conflict
Pakikisama: (Filipino) going along with others
The Five Factors in Other Cultures
1. Questionnaire measure of the FFM reliably replicate across many
a. Self-ratings and peer ratings converge like they do in the US
b. Five-factor scales correlate with meaningful external criteria on life
2. Adjectival measures of the Big Five reveal variation of Neuroticism, Extraversion,
Conscientiousness but not Openness in many cultures.
3. Openness varies across cultures
a. There were slight variations in which adjectives loaded on the Openness
factor in German, Turkish, Hebrew, Filipino, and Dutch
b. This may suggest that Openness might be unique to Anglo-Saxon
cultures. Some facets may be connected to Western beliefs of intellectual
freedom, emotional expressiveness, and individual uniqueness.
4. In some cultures, more than five factors are needed to fully describe personality
5. More research is needed on indigenous personality to see which aspects of
personality are universal and which are unique to a culture
a. Indigenous traits: traits originating from another language and that are
unique to a culture. These may be missed by questionnaires that aren’t
made to look for them.
Personality Traits in China
The basic replication of the FFM in China may be due to the structure of the
questionnaire, the influence of Western culture in the world, or some other explanation.
A way to check this would be to examine traditional Chinese values and see how they
apply to Chinese personality.
The Chinese Personality Assessment Inventory led to the indentification of 10 trait
clusters unique to Chinese personality and not covered by Western tests.
Harmony (tolerance, contentment)
Ren Qing: traditional relationship orientation, emphasizing give/take and
Modernization (vs. traditionalism)
Thrift (vs. extravagance)
Ah-Q mentality: defensiveness Graciousness (vs. meanness)
Face (reputation, social approval)
Somatization (expression of distress vs. physical symptoms)
When these were factor-analyzed, four factors were found (none of them the FFM):
Dependability (responsibility, practical-mindedness, graciousness)
Chinese Tradition (Harmony, Ren Qing, Face)
Social Potency (leadership, adventurousness)
Individualism (self-orientation, logical, Ah-Q mentality)
When this was factor-analyzed again later, six factors were found. The five from the
FFM and one indigenous factor they called Interpersonal Relatedness: made up of
Harmony, Ren Qing, Ah-Q, and Face
Triangulation and Types of Data
Triangulation: process of using multiple methods within a single program of research.
Each method compensates for the weakness of others.
Four types of data that can be collected:
S data (self-report data): objective personality tests, interviews, narratives, life
stories, and survey research
T data (test data): information from testing situations – experimental procedures
or standardized measures that have objective rules for scoring a person’s
performance. Ex.: intelligence tests, task persistence, and reaction times
O data (observation data): obtained by watching people in the laboratory or in