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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Dec;73(6):1296-312.

Effects of variable selection on the factor structure of person descriptors.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, California State University, San Bernardino, USA.


Previous factor-analytic studies of lexical person descriptors have produced some recurrent patterns of results, but their integration has been hampered by divergences in variable sampling, such as disparate criteria for what is considered a personality descriptor. To isolate effects of variable selection on factor structures, 500 of the most familiar English person descriptors were identified. Fifteen judges provided reliable classifications of these adjectives as disposition, state, social evaluation, or physical-appearance terms. Analyses of adult self-ratings (N = 700) and acquaintance ratings (N = 201) led to a stable Big Five structure when disposition terms, or combined disposition and state terms, were analyzed. Including a wider range of terms led to two additional stable factors: Attractiveness and a factor resembling Big Seven Negative Valence. A stable 3-factor solution was relatively impervious to variable-selection effects.

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