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J Res Pers. 2010 Feb 1;44(4):53-61.

The measurement equivalence of Big Five factor markers for persons with different levels of education.

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Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences, GESIS, Mannheim, Germany.


Previous findings suggest that the Big-Five factor structure is not guaranteed in samples with lower educational levels. The present study investigates the Big-Five factor structure in two large samples representative of the German adult population. In both samples, the Big-Five factor structure emerged only in a blurry way at lower educational levels, whereas for highly educated persons it emerged with textbook-like clarity. Because well-educated persons are most comparable to the usual subjects of psychological research, it might be asked if the Big Five are limited to such persons. Our data contradict this conclusion. There are strong individual differences in acquiescence response tendencies among less highly educated persons. After controlling for this bias the Big-Five model holds at all educational levels.

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