The Big Five

Essay by SiguteCollege, Undergraduate March 2004

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The Five-Factor Model originated in Allport and Odbert's attempt to compile trait-related terms. Researchers became dissatisfied with the trait like differences in adaptational styles. Investigators focused on situational based approaches that offered greater flexibility in explaining specific person-environment transactions.

Webb studied the earlier work of Spearman and his General Factor (g) of intelligence. Webb found a second factor, Will (w). Later Garnett analyzed Webb's correlation and found a third factor, Cleverness (c). By 1919, three broad factors accounted for individual differences, Intellect (g), Conscientiousness (w), and Extraversion (c) to give the Webb-Garnett factors their current

Supporters of the Five Factor Model imply that personality can be understood in terms of the five broad traits of adjustment, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and combination of imagination and curiosity, Personality researchers have used different theoretical perspectives in the past decade known as the Five-Factor Model--Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. A rearrangement of the beginning letters makes it easier to remember the five factors--OCEAN.

The NEO-PI (NEO-Personal Inventory) is designed to measure the basic five factors of personality. Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness were the first focus of the factors. The NEO-PI consists of 181 items on which subjects indicate, on a 5 point scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree), whether the statement is a characteristic or representation of them.


Support for the five-factor model comes from three main areas: the factor analysis of trait terms in language, the relation of trait questionnaires to other questionnaires and ratings, and the analysis of genetic (inherited) contributions to personality.


Big Five- In trait factor theory, the five major trait categories: emotionality, activity, and sociability factors.

Five-factor model- A suggestion of five basic factors to human personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Fundamental lexical hypothesis- The hypothesis that over time the most important...