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The Big Five in the lexical tradition, most vigorously advocated by Goldberg and colleagues, are based upon the lexical hypothesis: that those individual differences that are most salient and socially relevant will come to be encoded into the natural language. Therefore, the Big Five are based upon factor analyses of all (or a large number) of the trait-descriptive adjectives in a natural language, as culled from an unabridged dictionary. The Big Five are meant to provide a comprehensive description of phenotypic personality traits. They are not necessarily meant to have a biological basis.

One way of determining what is important in factor analytic studies of personality is whether the factors are replicable in different samples, perhaps across cultures. The Big Five have been replicated in a number of different languages. Early studies recovered the Big Five in several non-English languages, including Japanese (Bond, Nakazato, & Shiraishi, 1975), German (Borkenau & Ostendorf, 1992), Hebrew-speaking Israeli (Birenbaum & Montag, 1986), and Spanish (Benet-Martinez & John, 1998). However, these studies are marred by their reliance on measures translated from the English language. More recent studies have used indiginous trait terms, with mixed results. Among Germans (Angleitner & Ostendorf, 1989) and Filipinos (Church & Kaitigbak, 1989) the Big Five have again been recovered. Among the Chinese (Yang & Bond, 1992), only two of the Big Five have been recovered.

Goldberg's Big Five, unlike Costa and McCrae's OCEAN model, are not hierarchical. Instead, each pair of Goldberg's factors forms a circle in two-dimensional space, which together comprise the Abridged Big Five-Dimensional Circumplex, or AB5C (Hofstee, de Raad, & Goldberg, 1992). Pairs of factors form a circle because many items (usually adjectives) have large correlations, or "loadings," on two factors, rather than just one. The loadings are used as x- and y-coordinates to determine the item's angular location in two-dimensional space. Once its angular location is determined, the item is projected onto the perimeter of a circle. Items have been generated that represent all possible "blends" of pairs of the Big Five factors. Proponents of the circular Big Five model claim that there are many interstitial items, not that each group of items forms a circumplex. However, the first two Big Five factors map onto the two dimensions of the interpersonal circumplex, so theoretically items in this space should have circumplex structure.

Extraversion/ Surgency



Emotional Stability

Intellect/ Openness


SurgencyAgreeablenessConscientiousnessEmotional StabilityIntellect


Superiority StrivingSocial InterestSuperiority Striving




Dominant IniativeSocial-Emotional OrientationTask Orientation


Model of Other (Avoidance) (r) Model of Self (Anxiety) (r)


Low Ego Control High Ego ControlEgo Resiliency

Buss and Plomin

Activity ImpulsivityEmotionality (r)


Exvia (vs. Invia)Pathemia (vs. Cortertia)Superego StrengthAdjustment vs. AnxietyIndependence vs. Subduedness


Extraversion and ActivityFemininityOrderliness and Social ConformityEmotional StabilityRebelliousness

Costa and McCrae

ExtraversionAgreeablenessConscientiousnessNeuroticism (r)Openness




Basic Trust


ExtraversionPsychoticism (r)Neuroticism (r)


Confident Self-ExpressionSocial AdaptabilityConformityEmotional ControlInquiring Intellect


Psychosexual Development


ExtraversionConsensualityControl Flexibility


Social ActivityParanoid Disposition (r)Thinking IntroversionEmotional Stability


Ambition and SociabilityLikeabilityPrudenceAdjustmentIntellectance


Moving Toward


Outgoing, Social LeadershipSelf-Protective Orientation (r)Work OrientationDependence (r)Aesthetic / Intellectual


Control / DominanceAffiliation / Love


Self-Actualization Self-Actualization


Power MotivationIntimacy MotivationPower Motivation

Myers- Briggs

Extraversion vs. IntroversionFeeling vs. ThinkingJudging vs. Perception Intuition vs. Sensing






Personal Growth Personal Growth




Positive EmotionalityConstraintNegative EmotionalityAbsorption






Extraversion Psychoticism, Impulsivity, Sensation Seeking (r)Neuroticism (r)Psychoticism, Impulsivity, Sensation Seeking

Extraversion/ Surgency



Emotional Stability

Intellect/ Openness

Note: (r) means "reversed scored." (This table is adapted from Digman [1997], Griffin & Bartholomew [1994], John [1990], and McCrae & Costa [1996].)


Angleitner, A., & Ostendorf, F. (1989). Personality factors via self- and peer-ratings based on a representative sample of German trait descriptive terms. Paper presented at the first European Congress of Psychology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Benet-Martinez, V., & John, O. P. (1998). Los cinco grandes across cultures and ethnic groups: Multitrait multimethod analyses of the Big Five in Spanish and English. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 729-750.

Birenbaum, M., & Montag, I. (1986). On the location of the sensation seeking construct in the personality domain. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 21, 357-373.

Bond, M. H., Nakazato, H. S., & Shiraishi, D. (1975). Universality and distinctiveness in dimensions of Japanese person perception. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 6, 346-355.

Borkenau, P., & Ostendorf, F. (1992). A confirmatory factor analysis of the five-factor model of personality. Multivariate Behavioral Research.

Church, A. T., & Katigbak, M. S. (1989). Internal, external, and self-report structure of personality in a non-Western culture: An investigation of cross-language and cross-cultural generalizability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 857-872.

Digman, J. M. (1997). Higher-order factors of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1246-1256.

Griffin, D. W., & Bartholomew, K. (1994). The metaphysics of measurement: The case of adult attachment. In K. Bartholomew & D. Perlman (Eds.), Advances in personal relationships (Vol. 5, pp. 17-52). London: Jessica Kingsley.

Hofstee, W. K. B., de Raad, B., & Goldberg, L. R. (1992). Integration of the Big Five and circumplex approaches to trait structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 146-163.

John, O. P. (1990). The "Big Five" factor taxonomy: Dimensions of personality in the natural language and in questionnaires. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 66-100). New York: Guilford.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1996). Toward a new generation of personality theories: Theoretical contexts for the five-factor model. In J. S. Wiggins (Ed.), The five-factor model of personality: Theoretical perspectives (pp. 51-87). New York: Guilford.

Yang, K., & Bond, M. H. (1992). Exploring implicit personality theories with indigenous or imported constructs: The Chinese case. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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