Folk Concepts, Natural Language, and Psychological Constructs: The California Psychological Inventory and the Five-Factor Model


  • The authors thank Judy Beal and Jeffrey Herbst for rating California Psychological Inventory items, and Kevin Lanning for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Portions of this article were presented at the American Psychological Association Convention, August 1990, Boston.

Address correspondence to Robert R. McCrae, Personality, Stress, and Coping Section, Gerontology Research Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224.


ABSTRACT Both the California Psychological Inventory (CPI; Gough, 1987) and the five-factor model of personality have roots in folk concepts of personality. The present article offers a conceptual analysis of CPI scales in terms of the five-factor model. In the first study, judges rated the item content of CPI scales in terms of the five factors. In the second, CPI scales were correlated with the factors as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI; Costa & McCrae, 1985b) in a sample of 348 men and women ages 19 to 92. Both studies showed meaningful links between CPI scales and four of the factors; Agreeableness appeared to be underrepresented in CPI scales. The utility of systematic rational item analysis in terms of the five factors and the evolving relation of folk concepts to psychological constructs are discussed.