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What Are the Most Important Dimensions of Personality?Evidence from Studies of Descriptors in Diverse Languages



Progress is reviewed with respect on how attributes of personality and character can best be organized and structured. Key insights on this important scientific issue have been gained by a lexical approach, which posits that the degree of representation of an attribute in language corresponds substantially with the general importance of the attribute in real-world transactions. The rationale for studying the language of personality is explained, followed by a review of the most salient findings from lexical studies of person-descriptors in 16 languages. In these studies, one- and two-factor structures are found to be not only the most parsimonious but also the most easily replicated across variable selection procedures, and across languages and cultures. Structures with more factors are likely to show a comparative predictive advantage, but replicate more unevenly. Lexical studies appear to support a six-factor model at least as well as the Big Five. Future research attention should be directed toward inclusion of a wider range of individual differences, integration with models of temperament, and the search for causal factors and underlying mechanisms that are associated with the best-replicated personality dimensions.