The Big-Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives
Oliver P. John and Sanjay Srivastava
University of California at Berkeley
L. Pervin and O.P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research
(2nd ed.). New York: Guilford
Is Your Personality Fixed, Or Can You Change Who You Are?
Invisibilia. June 24, 2016
Walter Mischel had some basic assumptions about personality. The first was that people had different personalities, and that those personalities could be defined by certain traits, such as extroversion, conscientiousness, sociability.
personality researchers liked to argue about which traits were most important. But they never argued about the underlying premise of their field — that whatever traits you had were stable throughout your life and consistent across different situations.
he didn’t find much support for the idea that personality is stable. “I expected to find that the assumptions would be justified,” he says, “and then I started reading study after study that found that actually the data didn’t support it.”
Mischel ended up writing a book called Personality and Assessment in 1968 that challenged some of the most basic ideas we have about the role personality plays in our lives. He said that the idea that our personality traits are consistent is pretty much a mirage.
Mischel’s most famous experiment, called the marshmallow test, which he first conducted in 1960.
Talk of the Nation. 2004 (32 min)
Can you really test someone for integrity?
Adrian Furnham. Professor of Psychology at University College London
August 11, 2015
Personality Tests Are Popular, But Do They Capture The Real You?
June 25, 2016
Annie Murphy Paul. Journalist and author of The Cult of Personality Testing.
Personality testing is an industry the way astrology or dream analysis is an industry: slippery, often underground, hard to monitor or measure.
Secular changes in personality: study on 75-year-olds examined in 1976–1977 and 2005–2006
E. Billstedt, et al.
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 298–304, March 2013
In order to study secular changes in personality factors neuroticism and extroversion, representative population samples of non-demented 75-year-olds underwent psychiatric examinations in 1976–1977 (total n = 223, 138 women, 85 men) and 2005–2006 (total n = 556, 322 women and 234 men).
Eysenck Personality Inventory was used at both occasions. Demographic factors (educational level, marital status, having children) were registered.
Seventy-five-year-olds examined in 2005–2006 had higher values on extroversion and lower values on the Lie scale compared with those examined in 1976–1977. Neuroticism did not differ between the two birth cohorts. Neuroticism scores were higher in women than in men both in 1976–1977 and 2005–2006, and Lie score was higher in women than in men in 2005–2006.
Our findings suggest that present cohorts of 75-year-olds are more extroverted and less prone to respond in a socially desirable manner than those born three decades earlier. Neuroticism levels remained unchanged, suggesting this trait may be less influenced by environmental factors than the other traits studied.
Eysenck Personality Inventory
Higher scores of self reported schizotypy in healthy young males carrying the COMT high activity allele
Molecular Psychiatry, 2002, Volume 7, Number 7, Pages 706-711
D Avramopoulos, et al.
Schizotypal personality often precedes the development of schizophrenia and it is considered by some to be a low end of the schizophrenia spectrum.
It has also been found to be present in high frequency in schizophrenics’ relatives (reviewed by Webb et al), suggesting a common genetic background with the disease.
Although many studies have shown aggregation of schizotypal personality in schizophrenics’ families, when positive or negative symptoms are examined there is lack of consistency in the findings.
Nevertheless there have been reports of significant heritability for schizotypal personality and it has been suggested that positive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia correlate with the corresponding symptoms in schizotypal relatives.
It therefore seems likely, that schizotypal personality represents a condition attributable to some (but possibly not all) of the genes that predispose to schizophrenia, as it is a common but not a consistent premorbid finding.
What’s New? Exuberance for Novelty Has Benefits
February 13, 2012
novelty-seeking, a personality trait long associated with trouble … attention deficit disorder, compulsive spending and gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse and criminal behavior.
In the right combination with other traits, novelty-seeking is a crucial predictor of well-being.
“Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age,” says C. Robert Cloninger, the psychiatrist who developed personality tests for measuring this trait.
The problems with novelty-seeking showed up in his early research in the 1990s
“It can lead to antisocial behavior,” he says, “but if you combine this adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the kind of creativity that benefits society as a whole.”
Fans of this trait are calling it “neophilia”
Robert Moyzis, a biochemist at the University of California, Irvine.
The mutations are more prevalent in the most far-flung populations, like Indian tribes in South America descended from the neophiliacs who crossed the Bering Strait.
genes, as usual, are only part of the story.
Researchers have found that people’s tendency for novelty-seeking also depends on their upbringing, on the local culture and on their stage of life.
By some estimates, the urge for novelty drops by half between the ages of 20 and 60.
Dr. Cloninger, a professor of psychiatry and genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, tracked people using a personality test he developed two decades ago, the Temperament and Character Inventory.
By administering the test periodically and chronicling changes in people’s lives over more than a decade, he and colleagues looked for the crucial combination of traits in people who flourished over the years — the ones who reported the best health, most friends, fewest emotional problems and greatest satisfaction with life.
What was the secret to their happy temperament and character?
A trio of traits.
They scored high in novelty-seeking as well in persistence and “self-transcendence.”
Persistence, the stick-to-it virtue promoted by strong-willed Victorians, may sound like the opposite of novelty-seeking, but the two traits can coexist and balance each other.
“People with persistence tend to be achievers because they’ll keep working at something even when there’s no immediate reward,” Dr. Cloninger says. “They’ll think, ‘I didn’t win this time, but next time I will.’
The other trait in the trio, self-transcendence, gives people a larger perspective.
“It’s the capacity to get lost in the moment doing what you love to do, to feel a connection to nature and humanity and the universe,” Dr. Cloninger says. “It’s sometimes found in disorganized people who are immature and do a lot of wishful thinking and daydreaming, but when it’s combined with persistence and novelty-seeking, it leads to personal growth and enables you to balance your needs with those of the people around you.”
She and Dr. Cloninger both advise neophiles to be selective in their targets.
“Don’t go wide and shallow into useless trivia,” Ms. Gallagher says. “Use your neophilia to go deep into subjects that are important to you.”
Mental health: On the spectrum
Nature 496, 416–418 (25 April 2013)
Research suggests that mental illnesses lie along a spectrum — but the field’s latest diagnostic manual still splits them apart.
diagnosed with several disorders, or co-morbidities: About one-fifth of people who fulfil criteria for one DSM-IV disorder meet the criteria for at least two more.
These are patients “who have not read the textbook”
Psychiatrists see so many people with co-morbidities that they have even created new categories to account for some of them.
The classic Kraepelian theoretical division between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, for example, has long been bridged by a pragmatic hybrid called schizoaffective disorder, which describes those with symptoms of both disorders and was recognized in DSM–IV.
Ironically, the ingrained category approach is actually inhibiting the scientific research that could refine diagnoses, in part because funding agencies have often favoured studies that fit the standard diagnostic groups.
“Until a few years ago we simply would not have been able to get a gra nt to study psychoses,” says Nick Craddock, who works at the Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University, UK.
“Researchers studied bipolar disorder or they studied schizophrenia. It was unthinkable to study them together.”
“Introducing a botched dimensional system prematurely into DSM-5 may have the negative effect of poisoning the well for their future acceptance by clinicians,” wrote Allen Frances, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry
The controversial personality-disorder dimensions were voted down by the APA’s board of trustees at the final planning meeting in December 2012.
The APA claims that the final version of DSM-5 is a significant advance on the previous edition and that it uses a combination of category and dimensional diagnoses.
The previously separate categories of substance abuse and substance dependence are merged into the new diagnosis of substance-use disorder.
Bodurka’s group is studying the idea that dysfunctional brain circuits trigger the release of inflammatory cytokines and that these drive anhedonia by suppressing motivation and pleasure.
The scientists plan to probe these links using analyses of gene expression and brain scans. In theory, if this or other mechanisms of anhedonia could be identified, patients could be tested for them and treated, whether they have a DSM diagnosis or not.
On the question of dimensionality, most outsiders see it as largely the same as DSM-IV. Kupfer and Regier say that much of the work on dimensionality that did not make the final cut is included in the section of the manual intended to provoke further discussion and research.
All involved agree on one thing.
Their role model now is not Freud or Kraepelin, but the genetic revolution taking place in oncology.
Here, researchers and physicians are starting to classify and treat cancers on the basis of a tumour’s detailed genetic profile rather than the part of the body in which it grows.
Those in the psychiatric field say that genetics and brain imaging could do the same for diagnoses in mental health.