Five Factor Model - Psychology

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Five Factor Model

Factor analysis

R technique – large groups of subjects take a variety of personality tests

- scores are intercorrelated

1. measure surface traits


tendency to brood





2. look for source traits

- indecisiveness, depression and tendency to brood are highly intercorrelated

suggests a common factor, a primary factor

tentative label: guilt proneness

- aggressiveness, competitiveness and conceit are also highly intercorrelated

- suggests another primary factor

- tentative label: dominance

Factor loading – the degree of association between a surface variable and its underlying factor

3. Identify second-order factors

-Primary factors: suspiciousness


ego weakness

innate tension

Possible label:

Five Factor Model/Big Five

- Associated with the NEO-PI Five Factor Inventory

- 300 items

- to what degree is a statement characteristic of the person

- 5-point scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree)

The Factors (Supertraits)

Extraversion – interpersonal interaction

activity level

need for stimulation

Agreeableness – quality of interpersonal


Conscientiousness – degree of persistence,

motivation and organization in

goal-directed behavior

Emotionality/Neuroticism – adjustment vs.

emotional instability

Intellect/Openness to Experience –

appreciation of experience;

tolerance and exploration of the


Limitations of the Five - Factor Model:

- self-report measures

Note: self-ratings and observer ratings show agreement

- labeling the factors

- reductionist: does knowing the parts help us know the person?

Note: Facets are better predictors of behavior

- does it explain anything?

- circular: behavior infers the trait, which explains the behavior

- universal?

- research using translated questionnaires yielded four of the five factors in the Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong

- research using Chinese terms commonly used for personality yielded somewhat similar factors: social orientation, competence, expressiveness, self-control, and optimism


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