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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Aug;95(2):442-55. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.95.2.442.

Substance and artifact in the higher-order factors of the Big Five.

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Gerontology Research Center, Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, National Institute of Aging, Baltimore, MD 21224-6825, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Sep;95(3):592.


J. M. Digman (1997) proposed that the Big Five personality traits showed a higher-order structure with 2 factors he labeled alpha and beta. These factors have been alternatively interpreted as heritable components of personality or as artifacts of evaluative bias. Using structural equation modeling, the authors reanalyzed data from a cross-national twin study and from American cross-observer studies and analyzed new multimethod data from a German twin study. In all analyses, artifact models outperformed substance models by root-mean-square error of approximation criteria, but models combining both artifact and substance were slightly better. These findings suggest that the search for the biological basis of personality traits may be more profitably focused on the 5 factors themselves and their specific facets, especially in monomethod studies.

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