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Robert R. McCrae on Five-Factor Model - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 148
Five-Factor Model/McCrae: [the] five factors provide a structure in which most personality traits can be classified. This structure arises because traits co-vary. For example, people who are sociable and assertive tend also to be cheerful and energetic; they are high on the Extraversion (E) factor, which is said to be defined by sociability, assertiveness, cheerfulness and energy. However, people who are sociable and assertive may or may not be intellectually curious and imaginative. Those traits define a separate factor, Openness to Experience (O). Neuroticism versus Emotional Stability (N), Agreeableness versus Antagonism (A), and Conscientiousness (C) are the remaining factors. Cf. >Neuroticism, >Agreeableness, >Openness to experience, >Conscientiousness, >Introversion, >Extraversion.
Corr I 149
Lexical hypothesis: argues that traits are so important in human affairs that common words will have been invented to name them all. See >Lexical hypothesis/psychological theories.
Corr I 152
Per FFM/pro Five-Factor Model/McCrae: There is now consensus that the general personality dimension of N is associated with most personality disorders (Widiger and Costa 2002)(1), that E predisposes people to be happy (DeNeve and Cooper 1998)(2), that O predicts social and political liberalism (McCrae 1996)(3), that low A is a risk factor for substance abuse (Ball 2002)(4), that C is associated with good job performance (Barrick and Mount 1991)(5). The utility of the FFM has been securely demonstrated.
Corr I 152/153
VsFFM/VsFive-Factor Model/McCrae:
A. a) Advocates of a person-centred approach claim that types more faithfully represent the operation of psychological processes than do variable-centred traits (see Asendorpf, Caspi and Hofstee 2002(6), for a balanced discussion of these issues).
b) Social cognitive theorists (Cervone 2004(7) have argued that traits merely describe, without explaining, behaviour (see McCrae and Costa 2008a(8) for a rebuttal (McCraeVsCervone, CostaVsCervone).
c) The FFM itself does not constitute a full theory of personality, explaining human development, day-to-day functioning and social interactions in cultural context (McAdams and Pals 2006)(9). McCraeVsMcAdams, McCraeVsPals: see (McCrae and Costa 2003(10), 2008b(11).
B. Some authors propose some variation on or refinement of the FFM: Research in different languages led to proposals of models with more or less factors. De Raad and Peabody (2005)(12) reported analyses of trait descriptive adjectives in Dutch, Italian, Czech, Hungarian and Polish samples and found more robust support for a three-factor model consisting of E, A and C than for the FFM. Conversely, Ashton and colleagues (Ashton and Lee 2005(13); Ashton, Lee, Perugini et al. 2004)(14) reported lexical studies in a number of languages in which six replicable factors appeared.
Corr I 155
There has been made a sub division into facets within the personality traits of the FFM:
NEO-PI-R: has thirty facet scales, six for each factor. They were chosen to represent the most important constructs in the personality literature, while at the same time being maximally distinct.(Costa and McCrae 1995a)(15).
VsNEO-PI-R/VsMcCrae/VsCosta: The facet system of the NEO-PI-R has been criticized as being arbitrary, because ‘the key ingredient for a system to provide an adequate lower order structure of the Big Five is some empirical foundation to selecting lower-order traits’ in contrast to the ‘theoretical insight and intuition’ used in developing the NEO-PI-R (Roberts, Walton and Viechtbauer 2006(16), p. 29).


1. Widiger, T. A. and Costa, P. T., Jr 2002. Five-Factor Model personality disorder research, in P. T. Costa, Jr and T. A. Widiger (eds.), Personality disorders and the Five-Factor Model of personality, 2nd edn, pp. 59–87. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
2. DeNeve, K. M. and Cooper, H. 1998. The happy personality: a meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being, Psychological Bulletin 124: 197–229
3. McCrae, R. R. 1996. Social consequences of experiential Openness, Psychological Bulletin 120: 323–37
4. Ball, S. A. 2002. Big Five, Alternative Five, and seven personality dimensions: validity in substance-dependent patients, in P. T. Costa, Jr and T. A. Widiger (eds.), Personality disorders and the Five-Factor Model of personality, 2nd edn, pp. 177–201. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
5. Barrick, M. R. and Mount, M. K. 1991. The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance: a meta-analysis, Personnel Psychology 44: 1–26
6. Asendorpf, J. B., Caspi, A. and Hofstee, W. K. B. 2002. The puzzle of personality types [Special Issue], European Journal of Personality 16(S1) Ashton, M. C. and Lee, K. 2005. Honesty-Humility, the Big Five, and the Five-Factor Model, Journal of Personality 73: 1321–53
7. Cervone, D. 2004. Personality assessment: tapping the social-cognitive architecture of personality, Behaviour Therapy 35: 113–29
8. McCrae, R. R., and Costa, P. T. 2008a. Empirical and theoretical status of the Five-Factor Model of personality traits, in G. Boyle, G. Matthews and D. H. Saklofske (eds.), Sage handbook of personality theory and assessment, vol. I, pp. 273–94. Los Angeles, CA: Sage
9. McAdams, D. P. and Pals, J. L. 2006. A new Big Five: fundamental principles for an integrative science of personality, American Psychologist 61: 204–17
10. McCrae, R. R., and Costa, P. T. 2003. Personality in adulthood: a Five-Factor Theory perspective, 2nd edn. New York: Guilford
11. McCrae, R. R., and Costa, P. T. 2008b. The Five-Factor Theory of personality, in O. P. John, R. W. Robins and L. A. Pervin (eds.), Handbook of personality: theory and research, 3rd edn, pp. 159–81. New York: Guilford Press
12. De Raad, B. and Peabody, D. 2005. Cross-culturally recurrent personality factors: analyses of three factors, European Journal of Personality 19: 451–74
13. Ashton, M. C. and Lee, K. 2005. Honesty-Humility, the Big Five, and the Five-Factor Model, Journal of Personality 73: 1321–53
14. Ashton, M. C., Lee, K., Perugini, M., Szarota, P., De Vries, R. E., Di Blass, L., Boies, K. and De Raad, B. 2004. A six-factor structure of personality descriptive adjectives: solutions from psycholexical studies in seven languages, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86: 356–66
15. Costa, P. T., Jr., and McCrae, R. R. 1995a. Domains and facets: hierarchical personality assessment using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, Journal of Personality Assessment 64: 21–50
16. Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E. and Viechtbauer, W. 2006. Personality traits change in adulthood: reply to Costa and McCrae (2006), Psychological Bulletin 132: 29–32


Robert R. McCrae, “The Five-Factor Model of personality traits: consensus and controversy”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
McCrae, Robert R.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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