The Five-Factor Model in Fact and Fiction
Personality and Social Psychology
Published Online: 26 SEP 2012
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition
How to Cite
McCrae, R. R., Gaines, J. F. and Wellington, M. A. 2012. The Five-Factor Model in Fact and Fiction. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:I:4.
- Published Online: 26 SEP 2012
Literature and personality psychology both address human nature, but they rarely address each other. We argue that the Five-Factor Model (FFM), a universal and heritable structure of enduring personality traits, provides a framework for integrating these two traditions. For the psychologist, fiction can provide illustrative examples, testable hypotheses about traits and psychological processes, and perhaps a better understanding of culture and history. For the writer and reader, an understanding of current knowledge about personality can contribute to a keener perception of human character and a deeper appreciation of its depiction. Literary critics have long been influenced by psychoanalytic theory, but they have not, by and large, kept up-to-date with developments in psychology. We argue that critics might fruitfully apply the methods and findings of contemporary trait psychology to broad questions about genres, literary periods, and individual authors, as well as to the interpretation of individual characters. We illustrate the use of FFM personality profiles in understanding the protagonists from works of Goethe, Molière, and Voltaire. The FFM should be central to an evolving consciousness about human nature.
- Five-Factor Model;
- literary criticism;
- personality theory