Advertisement

Behavior Genetics

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 591–604 | Cite as

The Big Five Personality Traits: Psychological Entities or Statistical Constructs?

  • Sanja Franić
  • Denny Borsboom
  • Conor V. Dolan
  • Dorret I. Boomsma
Original Research

Abstract

The present study employed multivariate genetic item-level analyses to examine the ontology and the genetic and environmental etiology of the Big Five personality dimensions, as measured by the NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) [Costa and McCrae, Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO five-factor inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual, 1992; Hoekstra et al., NEO personality questionnaires NEO-PI-R, NEO-FFI: manual, 1996]. Common and independent pathway model comparison was used to test whether the five personality dimensions fully mediate the genetic and environmental effects on the items, as would be expected under the realist interpretation of the Big Five. In addition, the dimensionalities of the latent genetic and environmental structures were examined. Item scores of a population-based sample of 7,900 adult twins (including 2,805 complete twin pairs; 1,528 MZ and 1,277 DZ) on the Dutch version of the NEO-FFI were analyzed. Although both the genetic and the environmental covariance components display a 5-factor structure, applications of common and independent pathway modeling showed that they do not comply with the collinearity constraints entailed in the common pathway model. Implications for the substantive interpretation of the Big Five are discussed.

Keywords

Personality Big Five NEO-FFI Genetics Item-level analysis Common pathway model Independent pathway model 

References

  1. Achenbach TM (1991) Manual for the child behavior checklist/4-18 and 1991 profile. Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. Allport GW, Odbert HS (1936) Trait names: a psycho-lexical study. Psychol Monogr 47(1):1–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Block J (1995) A contrarian view of the five-factor approach to personality description. Psychol Bull 117(2):187PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Block JH, Block J (1980) The role of ego-control and ego-resiliency in the organization of behavior. In: Collins WA (ed) Minnesota symposium on child psychology, vol 13. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 39–101Google Scholar
  5. Bollen KA (1989) Structural equations with latent variables. Wiley, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouchard TJ Jr, Loehlin JC (2001) Genes, evolution, and personality. Behav Genet 31(3):243–273PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caprara GV, Barbaranelli C, Comrey AL (1995) Factor analysis of the Neo-PI inventory and the Comrey personality scales in an Italian sample. Personal Individ Differ 18(2):193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cattell RB (1943a) The description of personality: basic traits resolved into clusters. J Abnorm Soc Psychol 38(4):476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cattell RB (1943b) The description of personality. I. Foundations of trait measurement. Psychol Rev 50(6):559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cattell RB (1945) The description of personality: principles [sic] findings in a factor analysis. Am J Psychol 58:69–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cervone D (2005) Personality architecture: within-person structures and processes. Annu Rev Psychol 56:423–452PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Costa PT, McCrae RR (1985) The NEO personality inventory: manual, form S and form R. Psychological assessment resources, OdessaGoogle Scholar
  13. Costa PT, McCrae RR (1992) Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO five-factor inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources Inc., OdessaGoogle Scholar
  14. Costa P, McCrae R (2008) The revised NEO personality inventory (NEO-PI-R). The SAGE handbook of personality theory and assessment, pp 2179–2198Google Scholar
  15. de Moor MH, Costa P, Terracciano A, Krueger R, De Geus E, Toshiko T, Penninx B, Esko T, Madden P, Derringer J (2010) Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for personality. Mol Psychiatry 17(3):337–349PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeYoung CG, Hirsh JB, Shane MS, Papademetris X, Rajeevan N, Gray JR (2010) Testing predictions from personality neuroscience brain structure and the big five. Psychol Sci 21(6):820–828PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dolan CV (1994) Factor analysis of variables with 2, 3, 5 and 7 response categories: a comparison of categorical variable estimators using simulated data. Br J Math Stat Psychol 47(2):309–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Epskamp S, Cramer AOJ, Waldorp LJ, Schmittmann VD, Borsboom D (2012) qgraph: network visualizations of relationships in psychometric data. J Stat Softw 48(4):1–18Google Scholar
  19. Falconer DS, Mackay TFC (1996) Introduction to quantitative genetics. Longmans Green, HarlowGoogle Scholar
  20. Flora DB, Curran PJ (2004) An empirical evaluation of alternative methods of estimation for confirmatory factor analysis with ordinal data. Psychol Methods 9(4):466–491PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Franić S, Dolan CV, Borsboom D, Boomsma DI (2012) Structural equation modeling in genetics. In: Hoyle RH (ed) Handbook of structural equation modeling. Guilford Press, New York, pp 617–635Google Scholar
  22. Franić S, Dolan CV, Borsboom D, Hudziak JJ, van Beijsterveldt CEM, Boomsma DI (2013a) Can genetics help psychometrics? Improving dimensionality assessment through genetic factor modeling. Psychol Methods 18(3):406–433PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Franić S, Dolan CV, Borsboom D, van Beijsterveldt CEM, Boomsma DI (2013b) Three-and-a-half-factor model? The genetic and environmental structure of the CBCL/6-18 internalizing grouping. doi: 10.1007/s10519-013-9628-4
  24. French JW (1953) The description of personality measurements in terms of rotated factors. Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldberg LR (1977) Language and personality: developing a taxonomy of trait descriptive terms. Invited address to the division of evaluation and measurement at the annual meeting of the American psychological association, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  26. Goldberg LR (1980) Some ruminations about the structure of individual differences: developing a common lexicon for the major characteristics of personality. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the western psychological association, Honolulu, HIGoogle Scholar
  27. Goldberg LR (1981) Language and individual differences: the search for universals in personality lexicons. Rev Personal Soc Psychol 2(1):141–165Google Scholar
  28. Goldberg LR (1982) From ace to zombie: some explorations in the language of personality. Adv Personal Assess 1:203–234Google Scholar
  29. Goldberg LR (1983) The magical number five, plus or minus two: Some conjectures on the dimensionality of personality descriptions. Paper presented at a research seminar, Gerontology Research Center, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  30. Goldberg LR (1990) An alternative description of personality—the big-5 factor structure. J Personal Soc Psychol 59(6):1216–1229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goldberg LR (1992) The development of markers for the big-five factor structure. Psychol Assess 4(1):26–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Goldberg LR (1993) The structure of phenotypic personality traits. Am Psychol 48:26–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hahn R, Comrey AL (1994) Factor analysis of the NEO-PI and the Comrey personality scales. Psychol Rep 75(1):355–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hoekstra HA, Ormel J, De Fruyt F (1996) NEO personality questionnaires NEO-PI-R, NEO-FFI: manual. Swet & Zeitlinger BV, LisseGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnson W, Krueger RF (2004) Genetic and environmental structure of adjectives describing the domains of the big five model of personality: a nationwide US twin study. J Res Personal 38(5):448–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jöreskog KG (1993) Testing structural equation models. In: Bollen KA, Long SJ (eds) Testing structural equation models. SAGE, Newbury Park, pp 294–316Google Scholar
  37. Jöreskog KG, Sörbom D (2004) LISREL. Scientific Software International, Inc., SkokieGoogle Scholar
  38. Keller MC, Coventry WL (2005) Quantifying and addressing parameter indeterminacy in the classical twin design. Twin Res Hum Genet 8(3):201–213PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keller MC, Medland SE, Duncan LE (2010) Are extended twin family designs worth the trouble? A comparison of the bias, precision, and accuracy of parameters estimated in four twin family models. Behav Genet 40(3):377–393PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kendler KS, Heath AC, Martin NG, Eaves LJ (1987) Symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of depression—same genes, different environments. Arch Gen Psychiatry 44(5):451–457PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kenny DA (2012) Measuring model fit. http://davidakenny.net/cm/fit.htm. Accessed 28 June 2013
  42. Kline RB (2005) Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Loehlin JC (1989) Partitioning environmental and genetic contributions to behavioral development. Am Psychol 44(10):1285PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Loehlin J, Martin N (2001) Age changes in personality traits and their heritabilities during the adult years: evidence from Australian twin registry samples. Personal Individ Differ 30(7):1147–1160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Markus K, Borsboom D (2013) Frontiers of validity theory: measurement, causation, and meaning. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Martin NG, Eaves LJ (1977) Genetic-analysis of covariance structure. Heredity 38:79–95PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mather K, Jinks JL (1971) Biometrical genetics. Chapman and Hall, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McArdle JJ, Goldsmith HH (1990) Alternative common factor models for multivariate biometric analyses. Behav Genet 20(5):569–608PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McCrae RR, Costa PT Jr (1983) Joint factors in self-reports and ratings: neuroticism, extraversion and openness to experience. Personal Individ Differ 4(3):245–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McCrae RR, Costa PT (1999) A five-factor theory of personality. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. McCrae RR, Costa PT (2008) Empirical and theoretical status of the five-factor model of personality traits. Sage handbook of personality theory and assessment, vol 1. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 273–294Google Scholar
  52. McCrae RR, John OP (1992) An introduction to the 5-factor model and its applications. J Personal 60(2):175–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. McCrae RR, Zonderman AB, Costa PT, Bond MH, Paurnonen S (1996) Evaluating replicebility of factors in the revised NEO personality inventory: confirmatory factor analysis versus procrustes rotation. J Personal Soc Psychol 70:552–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mellenbergh GJ (1989) Item bias and item response theory. Int J Educ Res 13(2):127–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Meredith W (1993) Measurement invariance, factor-analysis and factorial invariance. Psychometrika 58(4):525–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mroczek DK (1992) Personality and psychopathology in older men: the five factor model and the MMPI-2. Dissert Abstr int 53(4B):2095Google Scholar
  57. Muthén LK, Muthén BO (1998–2007) Mplus user’s guide. Muthén & Muthén, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  58. Neale MC (2000) MxGui (1.7.03) [Computer software]. Virginia Commonwealth University, RichmondGoogle Scholar
  59. Neale MC, Cardon L (1992) Methodology for genetic studies of twins and families. Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Nigg JT, John OP, Blaskey LG, Huang-Pollock CL, Willicut EG, Hinshaw SP, Pennington B (2002) Big five dimensions and ADHD symptoms: links between personality traits and clinical symptoms. J Personal Soc Psychol 83(2):451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Norman WT (1963) Toward an adequate taxonomy of personality attributes: replicated factor structure in peer nomination personality ratings. J Abnorm Soc Psychol 66(6):574PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Norman WT (1967) 2800 personality trait descriptors: normative operating characteristics for a university population. Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  63. Parker JD, Bagby RM, Summerfeldt LJ (1993) Confirmatory factor analysis of the revised NEO personality inventory. Personal Individ Differ 15(4):463–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Peabody D, Goldberg LR (1989) Some determinants of factor structures from personality-trait descriptors. J Personal Soc Psychol 57(3):552–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pervin LA (1994) Further reflections on current trait theory. Psychol Inq 5(2):169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Plomin R, Caspi A (1990) Behavioral genetics and personality. Handbook of personality: theory and research, vol 2. Guilford Press, New York, pp 251–276Google Scholar
  67. R Development Core Team (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. In: R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  68. Rebollo I, de Moor MHM, Dolan CV, Boomsma DI (2006) Phenotypic factor analysis of family data: correction of the bias due to dependency. Twin Res Hum Genet 9(3):367–376PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Satorra A, Bentler PM (2001) A scaled difference Chi square test statistic for moment structure analysis. Psychometrika 66(4):507–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schmit MJ, Ryan AM (1993) The Big five in personnel selection: factor structure in applicant and nonapplicant populations. J Appl Psychol 78(6):966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tupes EC, Christal RE (1992) Recurrent personality factors based on trait ratings. J Personal 60(2):225–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. van Dongen JP, Draisma HHM, Martin NG, Boomsma DI (2012) The continuing value of twin studies in the omics era. Nat Rev Genet 13(9):640–653PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Willemsen G, Vink JM, Abdellaoui A, den Braber A, van Beek JHDA, Draisma HHM, van Dongen J, van‘t Ent D, Geels LM, van Lien R (2013) The adult Netherlands twin register: twenty-five years of survey and biological data collection. Twin Res Hum Genet 16(1):271–281PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sanja Franić
    • 1
  • Denny Borsboom
    • 2
  • Conor V. Dolan
    • 1
  • Dorret I. Boomsma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and EducationVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Psychological MethodsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations