What Is Beyond the Big Five?

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Abstract

Previous investigators have proposed that various kinds of person-descriptive content—such as differences in attitudes or values, in sheer evaluation, in attractiveness, or in height and girth—are not adequately captured by the Big Five Model. We report on a rather exhaustive search for reliable sources of Big Five–independent variation in data from person-descriptive adjectives. Fifty-three candidate clusters were developed in a college sample using diverse approaches and sources. In a nonstudent adult sample, clusters were evaluated with respect to a minimax criterion: minimum multiple correlation with factors from Big Five markers and maximum reliability. The most clearly Big Five–independent clusters referred to Height, Girth, Religiousness, Employment Status, Youthfulness, and Negative Valence (or low-base-rate attributes). Clusters referring to Fashionableness, Sensuality/Seductiveness, Beauty, Masculinity, Frugality, Humor, Wealth, Prejudice, Folksiness, Cunning, and Luck appeared to be potentially beyond the Big Five, although each of these clusters demonstrated Big Five multiple correlations of .30 to .45, and at least one correlation of .20 and over with a Big Five factor. Of all these content areas, Religiousness, Negative Valence, and the various aspects of Attractiveness were found to be represented by a substantial number of distinct, common adjectives. Results suggest directions for supplementing the Big Five when one wishes to extend variable selection outside the domain of personality traits as conventionally defined.

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