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J Res Pers. 2013 Oct 1;47(5):493-504.

The General Factor of Personality: A General Critique.

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Department of Psychology, Northwestern University.


Recently, it has been proposed that all non-cognitive measures of personality share a general factor of personality. A problem with many of these studies is a lack of clarity in defining a general factor. In this paper we address the multiple ways in which a general factor has been identified and argue that many of these approaches find factors that are not in fact general. Through the use of artificial examples, we show that a general factor is not: The first factor or component of a correlation or covariance matrix.The first factor resulting from a bifactor rotation or biquartimin transformationNecessarily the result of a confirmatory factor analysis forcing a bifactor solution We consider how the definition of what constitutes a general factor can lead to confusion, and we will demonstrate alternative ways of estimating the general factor saturation that are more appropriate.


CFA; EFA; Factor Analysis; General Factor of Personality; Psychometrics; SEM

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