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Conscientiousness/Neurobiology: Conscientiousness appears to reflect the tendency to maintain motivational >stability within the individual, to make plans and carry them out in an organized and industrious manner. Such top-down control of motivation should be necessary only in species capable of formulating long-term goals that might conflict with more immediate urges. In personality studies of other species, only the chimpanzee, our nearest evolutionary neighbour, has yet been found to possess a trait directly analogous to Conscientiousness (Gosling and John 1999)(1).
Conscientiousness may represent the purest manifestation in personality of the ability and tendency to constrain immediate impulses in favour of longer-term goals.
A factor analysis of many questionnaire measures of impulsivity (Whiteside and Lynam 2001)(2) found four factors, only two of which (labelled lack of perseverance and lack of premeditation) mapped onto Conscientiousness. The other two, labelled urgency and sensation-seeking, mapped onto Neuroticism and Extraversion, respectively, and appeared to describe strong impulses related to punishment and reward. In a similar vein, Depue and Collins (1999)(3) argued that, although theorists have often associated impulsivity with Extraversion, impulsivity might be better conceived as a compound trait emerging from the combination of high Extraversion and low Constraint or Conscientiousness.
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Another biological factor that may be related to Conscientiousness is glucose metabolism. Glucose represents the basic energy source for the brain, and a number of studies indicate that blood-glucose is depleted by acts of self-control and that the extent of this depletion predicts failures of self-control (Gailliot, Baumeister, DeWall et al. 2007(4); Gailliot and Baumeister 2007)(5).
1. Gosling, S. D. and John, O. P. 1999. Personality dimensions in nonhuman animals: a cross-species review, Current Directions in Psychological Science 8: 69–75
2. Whiteside, S. P. and Lynam, R. W. 2001. The Five Factor Model and impulsivity: using a structural model of personality to understand impulsivity, Personality and Individual Differences 30: 669–89
3. Depue, R. A. and Collins, P. F. 1999. Neurobiology of the structure of personality: dopamine, facilitation of incentive motivation, and extraversion, Behavioural and Brain Sciences 22: 491–569
4. Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Tice, D. M., Brewer, L. E. and Schmeichel, B. J. 2007. Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: willpower is more than a metaphor, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92: 325–36
5. Gailliot, M. T. and Baumeister, R. F. 2007. The physiology of willpower: linking blood glucose to self-control, Personality and Social Psychology Review 11: 303–27
Colin G. DeYoung and Jeremy R. Gray, „ Personality neuroscience: explaining individual differences in affect, behaviour and cognition“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press_____________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.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018