Five Factor Constellations and Popular Personality Types

Leland Beaumont
2003 unpublished
Around the coffee klatch and the water cooler, gossip often turns to control freaks, hot heads, power mongers, egomaniacs, and people with low self-esteem. The five-factor model of personality asserts that personality differences can be described by the five independent factors of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. How do these five factors combine to create some of the popularly described personality types? Personality Zimbardo defines personality as the
more » ... psychological qualities that bring continuity to an individual's behavior in different situations and at different times. It is the thread of continuity in an individual in different situations. Some theories attribute personalities to stable patterns known as traits, types, and temperaments. Traits are the stable personality characteristics that are presumed to exist within the individual and guide his or her thoughts and actions under various conditions. (Zimbardo). Not all words that describe individual behavior describe personality traits. Individuals can be described by (John 1999): • Enduring Traits such as Irascible, • Internal States such as furious, • Physical traits such as trembling, • Activities such as screaming, • Effects on others such as frightening, • Roles they play such as murderer, and • Social evaluations such as unacceptable The simple idea that humans introduce words into their language to describe interesting aspects of the world around them has led many researchers to embrace the lexical hypothesis, which states (De Raad): Those individual differences that are of most significance in the daily transactions of persons with each other will eventually become encoded into their language. The more important is such a difference, the more people will notice it and wish to talk of it, with the result that eventually they will invent a word for it. Several efforts to understand and develop a common vocabulary for describing traits begin with this lexical hypothesis. Allport and Odbert (1936 from De Raad) searched the second edition of the unabridged Webster's New International Dictionary for potential personality descriptors. They collected 17,953 terms that applied to human behavior. These words were classified into four groups representing personal traits, temporary traits, social evaluations, and metaphorical or doubtful terms. The result was a 134 page long list, including 4,504 words classified as trait terms. Cattell then collected this list of terms into groups of synonyms and antonyms, resulting in 160 categories of synonyms. He then reduced this to a list of 35 variables that are represented as bipolar trait clusters. This list is shown in Appendix A on page 9.