Traits in Common

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Science  29 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5722, pp. 605
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5722.605c

The five-factor model of personality posits five basic dimensions of personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Previous cross-cultural work has relied primarily on self-report measures collected mostly from Westernized college students. Using a third-person form of the NEO personality inventory, McCrae et al. present an intercontinental analysis of observer ratings. College students were asked to rate individuals from one of four groups—college-aged men and women and adult men and women—on six facets in each of the five dimensions. They find that their model does appear to apply across all 50 cultures (including Arabic and black African); the fit isn't perfect, but some of the variation may be due to mismatches between the questionnaire items and cultural contexts. Women were generally rated more highly than men, confirming data from self-report inventories, and scored higher on all six facets of agreeableness, which is consistent with earlier observations that women are more lenient when rating others. One interesting trend is that adult men scored higher than women on the conscientious facet “achievement striving,” whereas the opposite ranking applied for college-age individuals, possibly reflecting a role reversal across generations. — GJC

J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 88, 547 (2005).

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