Alpha and Beta Traits and Egoistic and Moralistic Self-Enhancement: A Point of Convergence Between Two Research Traditions


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michele Vecchione, Department of Psychology, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Rome, Italy. Email:



The current study investigated the relationship of egoistic and moralistic self-enhancement with Alpha and Beta, the two higher-order factors of personality encompassing the Big Five.


Four hundred sixteen Italian adults (59% females, mean age = 41.13) completed self-report measures of the Big Five and of egoistic and moralistic self-enhancement. They were also rated by acquaintances on the two self-enhancement measures. A cross-observer design within the framework of structural equation modeling was used to disentangle the variance shared by the constructs that is due to (a) substantive personality characteristics (i.e., the variance of egoistic and moralistic self-enhancement common to different informants), (b) response bias (i.e., the tendency to exaggerate agentic and communal qualities), and (c) halo effect (i.e., the common factor underlying all self-report measures).


Findings revealed significant correlations between Alpha and Beta and the substantive parts of egoistic and moralistic dimensions. Beta was primarily related to egoistic self-enhancement, whereas alpha was mostly related to moralistic self-enhancement. Nevertheless, a substantial portion of variance in Alpha and Beta was explained by response bias and halo effect.


Substance, bias, and method variance all represent important sources of covariation among the Big Five.