Putting the Five-Factor Model Into Context: Evidence Linking Big Five Traits to Narrative Identity


  • Thanks are due to Dan McAdams, John Barresi, Rebecca Shiner, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. This research was supported in part by Merit Research Grants to the author from James Cook University.

regarding this article may be sent to Peter Raggatt, School of Psychology, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, Queensland, Australia. E-mail: Peter.Raggatt@jcu.edu.au.


ABSTRACT The study examined relationships between the Big Five personality traits and thematic content extracted from self-reports of life history data. One hundred and five “mature age” university students (M=30.1 years) completed the NEO PI-R trait measure, and the Personality Web Protocol. The protocol examines constituents of identity by asking participants to describe 24 key “attachments” from their life histories (significant events, people, places, objects, and possessions). Participants sorted these attachments into clusters and provided a self-descriptive label for each cluster (e.g., “adventurous self”). It was predicted that the thematic content of these cluster labels would be systematically related to Big Five trait scores (e.g., that labels referring to strength or positive emotions would be linked to Extraversion). The hypothesized links were obtained for each of the Big Five trait domains except Conscientiousness. Results are discussed with a view to broadening our understanding of the Five-Factor Model in relation to units of personality other than traits.