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Abstract

Objective

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.

Method

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).

Results

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.

Conclusions

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