4
$\begingroup$

Personality traits tend to correlate. That is, the factors 'reward seeking', 'fun seeking' and 'drive' of the BIS/BAS scales are inter-correlated and similary in the Big 5 theory, the factor Neuroticism negatively correlates with Extraversion and Conscientiousness. (In the general population.)

I was wondering, does either of the personality theories (or any other personality theory) propose that there exists a balance between personality traits? Or that certain combinations of traits are meaningful. For example would high Neuroticism and high Extraversion describe some subgroup and be predictive in any way?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I'd certainly think so. The prediction may not always be in the obvious direction, though, and may depend highly on the setting of the actor and the deflections and impressions present (affect control theory). $\endgroup$ – dwn Jan 9 '15 at 17:53
4
$\begingroup$

Here are a few ways of thinking about this:

  • Regression modelling - Main effects: When we predict an outcome of interest from multiple traits (e.g., the Big 5), we often get multiple significant parameters. For example, when predicting life satisfaction, low neuroticism and high extraversion tend to provide the strongest predictors, but there are also typically positive coefficients for the other factors. Thus, the coefficients imply a way of forming a personality composite to maximise prediction of an outcome.
  • Regression modelling - Interaction effects: You can examine interaction effects of multiple traits (e.g., is there a neuroticism by extraversion interaction in predicting life satisfaction). This is typically examined by including both the raw variables and the product of the two interacting variables. The significance of the product is used test for an interaction effect. That said, my general sense is that these kinds of interactions tend to be very small in comparison to the size of the main effects.
  • Type-based research: There are various conceptions of personality such as Type A and Type D personality. They often define a categorically distinct personality in terms of status on a number of traits. For example, Type D is defined as high negative affect and high social inhibition. Such type based approaches implicitly assume that it is useful and ideally meaningful to talk about such clusters of traits.
  • Higher level traits: Another way of thinking about correlated traits is in terms of an underlying higher level trait. This is proposed explicitly in hierarchical measures of personality such as the NEO-PI where there are 6 facets for each of the Big 5. Thus, the six conscientiousness facets are in some sense combined to form the overall conscientiousness factor (see facet versus factor prediction). In a less explicit, we can also see discussion of the Big 1 (a proposed higher level factor explaining some shared variance in the Big 5) as an implicit way of combining the Big 5.
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I have upvoted this answer because it gives insight how research on predictive combinations of traits might be conducted. $\endgroup$ – Ivana Jan 14 '15 at 18:32
1
$\begingroup$

I can answer my own paper to some extent.

Yes, there exists research that finds specific combinations of factor scores predictive. For example: "High Extraversion and Openness and low Neuroticism and Agreeableness predicted fearless dominance, whereas high Neuroticism and low Agreeableness and Conscientiousness predicted impulsive antisociality". [1]

Hoewever, it is unclear if 'personality theorists' a priori propose that such combinations of traits exist. In addition, personality research is a very productive field [2], with personality measurement (like the Big Five) being used to predict anything from educational success, to leadership, to health behaviour etc. It therefore seems unlikely there will be a review titled: "Combinations of Personality Dimension Scores and what they predict: a review of 40 years of research" (a book i would definately like to leaf through)

[1] Ross, Scott R., et al. "Factors of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory: Criterion-related validity and relationship to the BIS/BAS and Five-Factor models of personality." Assessment (2008).

[2] Allik, Jüri. "Personality psychology in the first decade of the new millennium: a bibliometric portrait." European Journal of Personality 27.1 (2013): 5-14

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.