Contributors to this blog (in alphabetical order a la the economists)
David Condon, Chris Fraley, Katie Corker, Rodica Damian, M Brent Donnelan, Grant Edmonds, David Funder, Don Lynam, Dan Mroczek, Uli Orth, Alexander Schackman, Uli Schimmack, Chris Soto, Brent Roberts, Jennifer Tackett; Brenton Wiernik, Sara Weston,
Scientific personality psychology has had a bit of a renaissance in the last few decades, emerging from a period of deep skepticism and subsequent self-reflection to a period where we believe there are robust findings in our field.
The problem is that many people, and scientists, don’t follow scientific personality psychology and remain blithely unaware of the field’s accomplishments. In fact, it is quite common to do silly things like equate the field of scientific personality psychology with the commodity that is the MBTI.
With this situation in mind, I recently asked a subset of personality psychologists to help identify what they believed to be robust findings in personality psychology. You will find the product of that effort below.
We are not assuming that we’ve identified all of the robust findings. In fact, we’d like you to vote on each one to see whether these are consensually defined “robust findings.” Moreover, we’d love you to comment and suggest other candidates for consideration. All we ask is that you characterize the finding and suggest some research that backs up your suggestion. We’ve kept things pretty loose to this point, but the items below can be characterized as findings that replicate across labs and have a critical mass of research that is typically summarized in one or more meta-analyses. We are open to suggestions about making the inclusion criteria more stringent.
Regardless of your feelings about this effort, I found the experience to be illuminating. At one level, I personally believe that every field should do this even if the result is not convincing. As people have noted, as self-described scientists we are in the enterprise of discovering reliable facts. If we can’t readily identify the provisional facts we’ve come up with and communicate them to others in simple language something is really, really wrong with our field.
If it is the case that you believe these findings are mundane or obvious, we look forward to the link to your post laying out what you thought was mundane and obvious from 2 years ago, or any time in the past for that matter. Lacking that, we suspect your contempt says more about you than about these findings.
Personality traits partially predict longevity at an equal level to, and above and beyond, socioeconomic status and intelligence.
Graham, E.K., Rutsohn, J.P., Turiano, N.A., Bendayan, R., Batterham, P., Gerstorf, D., Katz, M., Reynolds, C., Schoenhofen, E., Yoneda, T., Bastarache, E., Elleman, Zelinski, E.M., Johansson, B., Kuh, D., Barnes, L.L., Bennett, D., Deeg, D., Lipton, R., Pedersen, N., Piccinin, A., Spiro, A., Muniz-Terrera, G., Willis, S., Schaie, K.W., Roan, C., Herd, P., Hofer, S.M., & Mroczek, D.K. (2017). Personality predicts mortality risk: An integrative analysis of 15 international longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 70, 174-186.
Jokela, M., Airaksinen, J., Virtanen, M., Batty, G. D., Kivimäki, M., & Hakulinen, C. (2019). Personality, disability‐free life years, and life expectancy: Individual participant meta‐analysis of 131,195 individuals from 10 cohort studies. Journal of Personality.
Kern, M. L., & Friedman, H. S. (2008). Do conscientious individuals live longer? A quantitative review. Health psychology, 27(5), 505.
Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(4), 313-345.
Personality traits partially predict career success above and beyond socioeconomic status and intelligence.
Damian, R. I., Su, R., Shanahan, M., Trautwein, U., & Roberts, B. W. (2015). Can personality traits and intelligence compensate for background disadvantage? Predicting status attainment in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(3), 473.
Judge, T. A., Higgins, C. A., Thoresen, C. J., & Barrick, M. R. (1999). The Big Five Personality Traits, General Mental Ability, and Career Success Across the Life Span. Personnel Psychology, 52, 621-652.
Sutin, A. R., Costa Jr, P. T., Miech, R., & Eaton, W. W. (2009). Personality and career success: Concurrent and longitudinal relations. European Journal of Personality: 23(2), 71-84.
Trzesniewski, K. H., Donnellan, M. B., Moffitt, T. E., Robins, R. W., Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (2006). Low self-esteem during adolescence predicts poor health, criminal behavior, and limited economic prospects during adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 42, 381-390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.521
Personality factors are partially heritable with most of the variance being from non-shared environmental influences and only a small portion being the result of shared environmental influences, like all other psychological constructs.
Fearon, P., Shmueli‐Goetz, Y., Viding, E., Fonagy, P., & Plomin, R. (2014). Genetic and environmental influences on adolescent attachment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(9), 1033-1041.
Polderman, T. J., Benyamin, B., De Leeuw, C. A., Sullivan, P. F., Van Bochoven, A., Visscher, P. M., & Posthuma, D. (2015). Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies. Nature Genetics, 47(7), 702.
Tellegen, A., Lykken, D. T., Bouchard, T. J., Wilcox, K. J., Segal, N. L., & Rich, S. (1988). Personality similarity in twins reared apart and together. Journal of personality and social psychology, 54(6), 1031.
Vukasović, T., & Bratko, D. (2015). Heritability of personality: a meta-analysis of behavior genetic studies. Psychological Bulletin, 141(4), 769-785
Personality traits partially predict school grades.
Noftle, E. E., & Robins, R. W. (2007). Personality predictors of academic outcomes: big five correlates of GPA and SAT scores. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(1), 116.
Poropat, A. E. (2009). A meta-analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychological Bulletin, 135(2), 322-338.
Personality factors, including attachment, partially predict relationship satisfaction, but personality trait similarity does not.
Candel, O. S., & Turliuc, M. N. (2019). Insecure attachment and relationship satisfaction: A meta-analysis of actor and partner associations. Personality and Individual Differences, 147, 190-199.
Donnellan, M. B., Assad, K. K., Robins, R. W., & Conger, R. D. (2007). Do negative interactions mediate the effects of negative emotionality, communal positive emotionality, and constraint on relationship satisfaction? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 557-573. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265407507079249
Dyrenforth, P. S., Kashy, D. A., Donnellan, M. B., & Lucas, R. E. (2010). Predicting relationship and life satisfaction from personality in nationally representative samples from three countries: The relative importance of actor, partner, and similarity effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(4), 690-702.
Robins, R. W., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2002). It’s not just who you’re with, it’s who you are: Personality and relationship experiences across multiple relationships. Journal of personality, 70(6), 925-964.
The infamous personality coefficient compares favorably to other effect sizes studied in many areas of Psychology and related fields. Large effects are not expected when considering multiply-determined, consequential life outcomes.
Ahadi, S., & Diener, E. (1989). Multiple determinants and effect size. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(3), 398-406.
Bosco, F. A., Aguinis, H., Singh, K., Field, J. G., & Pierce, C. A. (2015). Correlational effect size benchmarks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(2), 431-449.
Funder, D. C., & Ozer, D. J. (1983). Behavior as a function of the situation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44(1), 107-112.
Gignac, G. E., & Szodorai, E. T. (2016). Effect size guidelines for individual differences researchers. Personality and Individual Differences, 102, 74-78.
Hemphill, J. F. (2003). Interpreting the magnitudes of correlation coefficients. American Psychologist, 58, 78-79.
Hill, C. J., Bloom, H. S., Black, A. R., & Lipsey, M. W. (2008). Empirical benchmarks for interpreting effect sizes in research. Child Development Perspectives, 2(3), 172-177.
Paterson, T. A., Harms, P. D., Steel, P., & Credé, M. (2016). An assessment of the magnitude of effect sizes: Evidence from 30 years of meta-analysis in management. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 23(1), 66-81.
Richard, F. D., Bond Jr, C. F., & Stokes-Zoota, J. J. (2003). One hundred years of social psychology quantitatively described. Review of General Psychology, 7(4), 331-363.
Personality shows both consistency (rank relative to others) and change (level relative to younger self) across time. Personality continues to change across the lifespan (largest changes between ages 18 and 30, but continues later on) and the mechanisms of change include: social investment, life experiences, therapy, own volition
Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., & Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life events and personality trait change. Journal of Personality, 86(1), 83-96.
Bleidorn, W., Klimstra, T. A., Denissen, J. J., Rentfrow, P. J., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2013). Personality maturation around the world: A cross-cultural examination of social-investment theory. Psychological Science, 24(12), 2530-2540.
Damian, R. I., Spengler, M., Sutu, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2019). Sixteen going on sixty-six: A longitudinal study of personality stability and change across 50 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(3), 674.
Fraley, R. C., Vicary, A. M., Brumbaugh, C. C., & Roisman, G. I. (2011). Patterns of stability in adult attachment: An empirical test of two models of continuity and change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 974-992.
Hudson, N. W., Briley, D. A., Chopik, W. J., & Derringer, J. (2018). You have to follow through: Attaining behavioral change goals predicts volitional personality change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Mroczek, D.K., & Spiro, A, III. (2003). Modeling intraindividual change in personality traits: Findings from the Normative Aging Study. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 58B, 153-165. doi: 10.1093/geronb/58.3.P153
Roberts, B.W., & DelVecchio, W. F. (2000). The rank-order consistency of personality from childhood to old age: A quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 3-25.
Roberts, B. W., Luo, J., Briley, D. A., Chow, P. I., Su, R., & Hill, P. L. (2017). A systematic review of personality trait change through intervention. Psychological Bulletin, 143(2), 117.
Roberts, B.W., Walton, K. & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 1-25.
Milojev, P., & Sibley, C. G. (2017). Normative personality trait development in adulthood: A 6-year cohort-sequential growth model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, 510-526. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000121
Srivastava, S., John, O. P., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2003). Development of personality in early and middle adulthood: Set like plaster or persistent change?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(5), 1041.
Terracciano, A., McCrae, R. R., Brant, L. J., & Costa, P. T. (2005). Hierarchical linear modeling analyses of the NEO-PI-R scales in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Psychology and Aging, 20, 493-506. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0882-79184.108.40.2063
Personality-descriptive language, psychological tests, and pretty much every other form of describing or measuring individual differences in behavior can be organized in terms of five or six broad trait factors.
Ashton, M. C., Lee, K., & Goldberg, L. R. (2004). A hierarchical analysis of 1,710 English personality-descriptive adjectives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(5), 707.
Goldberg, L. R. (1990). An alternative” description of personality”: The Big-Five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(6), 1216.
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1), 81-90.
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1989). Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from the perspective of the five-factor model of personality. Journal of Personality, 57(1), 17-40.
Personality research replicates more reliably than many other areas of behavioral science.
Fraley, R. C., & Vazire, S. (2014). The N-pact factor: Evaluating the quality of empirical journals with respect to sample size and statistical power. PloS one, 9(10), e109019.
Soto, C. J. (2019). How replicable are links between personality traits and consequential life outcomes? The Life Outcomes of Personality Replication Project. Psychological Science, 30(5), 711-727.
Self-reports and informant-reports of personality agree with each other, but not perfectly. And both sources provide valid information.
Connolly, J. J., Kavanagh, E. J., & Viswesvaran, C. (2007). The convergent validity between self and observer ratings of personality: A meta‐analytic review. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 15(1), 110-117.
Connelly, B. S., & Ones, D. S. (2010). An other perspective on personality: Meta-analytic integration of observers’ accuracy and predictive validity. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1092-1122.
Orth, U. (2013). How large are actor and partner effects of personality on relationship satisfaction? The importance of controlling for shared method variance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1359-1372. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167213492429
Roisman, G.I., Holland, A., Fortuna, K., Fraley, R.C., Clausell, E., & Clarke, A. (2007). The Adult Attachment Interview and self-reports of attachment style: An empirical rapprochement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 678-697.
Vazire, S. (2012). Who knows what about a person? The self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 281-300.
Behavioral “residue” of personality is everywhere.
Gladstone, J. J., Matz, S. C., & Lemaire, A. (2019). Can Psychological Traits Be Inferred From Spending? Evidence From Transaction Data. Psychological Science, 0956797619849435.
Gosling, S. D., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A room with a cue: personality judgments based on offices and bedrooms. Journal of personality and social psychology, 82(3), 379.
Mehl, M. R., Gosling, S. D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). Personality in its natural habitat: Manifestations and implicit folk theories of personality in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 862-877.
Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2003). The do re mi’s of everyday life: the structure and personality correlates of music preferences. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(6), 1236.
Vazire, S., & Gosling, S. D. (2004). e-Perceptions: Personality impressions based on personal websites. Journal of personality and social psychology, 87(1), 123.
Personality is at the core of mental health
Crowe, M.L., Lynam, D.R., Campbell, W.K., & Miller, J.D. (2019). Exploring the structure of narcissism: Towards an integrated solution. Journal of Personality, 87, 1151-1169.
Hur, J., Stockbridge, M. D., Fox, A. S. & Shackman, A. J. (2019). Dispositional negativity, cognition, and anxiety disorders: An integrative translational neuroscience framework. Progress in Brain Research, 247, 375-436.
Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F., & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 136(5), 768.
Lynam, D.R., & Miller, J.D. (2015). Psychopathy from a basic trait perspective: The utility of a five-factor model approach. Journal of Personality, 83, 611-626.
Lynam, D.R. & Widiger, T. (2001). Using the five factor model to represent the personality disorders: An expert consensus approach. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 401-412.
Miller, J.D., Lynam, D.R., Widiger, T., & Leukefeld, C. (2001). Personality disorders as extreme variants of common personality dimensions: Can the Five Factor Model adequately represent psychopathy? Journal of Personality, 69, 253-276.
Shackman, A. J., Tromp, D. P. M., Stockbridge, M. D., Kaplan, C. M., Tillman, R. M., & Fox, A. S. (2016). Dispositional negativity: An integrative psychological and neurobiological perspective. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 1275-1314.
Vize, C.E., Collison, K.L., Miller, J.D., & Lynam, D.R. (2019). Using Bayesian methods to update and expand the meta-analytic evidence of the Five-Factor Model’s relation to antisocial behavior. Clinical Psychology Review, 67, 61-77.
Widiger, T. A., Sellbom, M., Chmielewski, M., Clark, L. A., DeYoung, C. G., Kotov, R., … & Samuel, D. B. (2019). Personality in a hierarchical model of psychopathology. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(1), 77-92.
Wright, A. G., Hopwood, C. J., & Zanarini, M. C. (2015). Associations between changes in normal personality traits and borderline personality disorder symptoms over 16 years. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 6(1), 1.
Personality is partially predicts financial and economic outcomes, such as annual earnings, net worth and consumer spending
Denissen, J. J. A., Bleidorn, W., Hennecke, M., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Specht, J., & Zimmermann, J. (2018). Uncovering the power of personality to shape income. Psychological Science, 29, 3-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797617724435
Judge, T. A., Livingston, B. A., & Hurst, C. (2012). Do nice guys—and gals—really finish last? The joint effects and agreeableness on income. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 390-407. doi: 10.1037/a0026021
Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., … & Sears, M. R. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 2693-2698.
Nyhus, E. K., & Pons, E. (2005). The effects of personality on earnings. Journal of Economic Psychology. 26(3), 363-384.
Roberts, B., Jackson, J. J., Duckworth, A. L., & Von Culin, K. (2011, April). Personality measurement and assessment in large panel surveys. In Forum for health economics & policy (Vol. 14, No. 3). De Gruyter.
Weston, S. J., Gladstone, J. J., Graham, E. K., Mroczek, D. K., & Condon, D. M. (2019) Published advance access online September 13, 2018). Who Are the Scrooges? Personality Predictors of Holiday Spending. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10, 775-782
Birth order is functionally unrelated to personality traits and only modestly related to cognitive ability.
Damian, R. I., & Roberts, B. W. (2015). The associations of birth order with personality and intelligence in a representative sample of US high school students. Journal of Research in Personality, 58, 96-105.
Rohrer, J. M., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2015). Examining the effects of birth order on personality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(46), 14224-14229.
Rohrer, J. M., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2017). Probing birth-order effects on narrow traits using specification-curve analysis. Psychological Science, 28(12), 1821-1832.
Personality traits, especially conscientiousness and emotional stability, are partially related to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease syndrome.
Chapman, B. P., Huang, A., Peters, K., Horner, E., Manly, J., Bennett, D. A., & Lapham, S. (2019). Association Between High School Personality Phenotype and Dementia 54 Years Later in Results From a National US Sample. JAMA psychiatry
Terracciano, A., Sutin, A. R., An, Y., O’Brien, R. J., Ferrucci, L., Zonderman, A. B., & Resnick, S. M. (2014). Personality and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: new data and meta-analysis. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 10(2), 179-186.
Wilson, R. S., Arnold, S. E., Schneider, J. A., Li, Y., & Bennett, D. A. (2007). Chronic distress, age-related neuropathology, and late-life dementia. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69(1), 47-53.
Wilson, R. S., Schneider, J. A., Arnold, S. E., Bienias, J. L., & Bennett, D. A. (2007). Conscientiousness and the incidence of Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment. Archives of general psychiatry, 64(10), 1204-1212.
Personality traits partially predict job performance
Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Personality and performance at the beginning of the new millennium: What do we know and where do we go next? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9(1/2), 9–30. https://doi.org/10/frqhf2
Hurtz, G. M., & Donovan, J. J. (2000). Personality and job performance: The Big Five revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(6), 869–879. https://doi.org/10/bc7959
Oh, I.-S. (2009). The Five Factor Model of personality and job performance in East Asia: A cross-cultural validity generalization study (Doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa). Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/dissertations/docview/304903943/
van Aarde, N., Meiring, D., & Wiernik, B. M. (2017). The validity of the Big Five personality traits for job performance: Meta-analyses of South African studies. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 25(3), 223–239. https://doi.org/10/cbhv
Particularly more motivation-driven behaviors (e.g., helping, rule breaking):
Berry, C. M., Carpenter, N. C., & Barratt, C. L. (2012). Do other-reports of counterproductive work behavior provide an incremental contribution over self-reports? A meta-analytic comparison. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), 613–636. https://doi.org/10/fzktph
Berry, C. M., Ones, D. S., & Sackett, P. R. (2007). Interpersonal deviance, organizational deviance, and their common correlates: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(2), 410–424. https://doi.org/10/b965s7
Chiaburu, D. S., Oh, I.-S., Berry, C. M., Li, N., & Gardner, R. G. (2011). The five-factor model of personality traits and organizational citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(6), 1140–1166. https://doi.org/10/fnfd2q
Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Personality and transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 901–910. https://doi.org/10/ctfhf9
Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 765–780. https://doi.org/10/bhfk7d
DeRue, D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N. E. D., & Humphrey, S. E. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64(1), 7–52. https://doi.org/10/fwzt2t
Among the Big Five, C has the largest and most consistent relationships:
Wilmot, M. P., & Ones, D. S. (2019). A century of research on conscientiousness at work. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10/ggcjvr
There is a hierarchy of consistency in personality with cognitive abilities at the top followed by personality traits and then subjective evaluations like subjective well-being and life satisfaction
Conley, J. J. (1984). The hierarchy of consistency: A review and model of longitudinal findings on adult individual differences in intelligence, personality and self-opinion. Personality and Individual Differences, 5(1), 11-25.
Fujita, F., & Diener, E. (2005). Life satisfaction set point: stability and change. Journal of personality and social psychology, 88(1), 158.
Anusic, I., & Schimmack, U. (2016). Stability and change of personality traits, self-esteem, and well-being: Introducing the meta-analytic stability and change model of retest correlations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(5), 766.