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date: 30 September 2022

The Big Five Personality Trait Factorslocked

The Big Five Personality Trait Factorslocked

  • Boele De RaadBoele De RaadUniversity of Groningen
  •  and Boris MlačićBoris MlačićInstitute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar


The field of dispositional traits of personality is best summarized in terms of five fundamental dimensions: the Big Five personality trait factors, namely Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect. The Big Five find their origin in psycho-lexical work in which the lexicon of a language is scanned for all words that can inform about personality traits. The Big Five factors have emerged most articulately in Indo-European languages in Europe and the United States, and weaker versions have appeared in non-Indo-European languages. The model is most functional and detailed in a format that integrates simple structure and circular representations. Such a format gives the Big Five system great accommodative potential, meaning that many or most of the concepts developed in approaches other than the Big Five can be located in that system, thus enhancing the communication about personality traits in the field. The Big Five model has been applied in virtually all disciplines of psychology, including clinical, social, organizational, and developmental psychology. In particular, the Big Five have been found useful in the field of learning and education where the factor Conscientiousness has been identified as a strong predictor of academic performance, but where other factors of the Big Five also have been demonstrated to play important roles, often in moderating or mediating sense. The Big Five model has faced a number of critical issues, one of which concerns the criteria of inclusion of trait-descriptive words from the lexicon. With relaxed criteria, allowing more than just dispositional trait words (e.g., trait words that are predominantly evaluative in nature), additional dimensions may emerge beyond the Big Five, mostly conveying features of morality. An important issue regards the cross-cultural applicability of trait-descriptive dimensions. With a cross-cultural emphasis, possibly no more than three factors, expressive of traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness, make the best chance for claims of universality. For a good understanding of traits representing the remaining Big Five dimensions, and also dimensions that have sometimes been identified beyond the Big Five, it is not only important to specify their regional applicability, but also to articulate differences in research methodology.


  • Cognition, Emotion, and Learning

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