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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2017 Mar;112(3):474-490. doi: 10.1037/pspp0000100. Epub 2016 Apr 28.

Personality traits below facets: The consensual validity, longitudinal stability, heritability, and utility of personality nuances.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld.
3
Department of Psychology, University of California.
4
of Psychology, University of Bielefeld.

Abstract

It has been argued that facets do not represent the bottom of the personality hierarchy-even more specific personality characteristics, nuances, could be useful for describing and understanding individuals and their differences. Combining 2 samples of German twins, we assessed the consensual validity (correlations across different observers), rank-order stability, and heritability of nuances. Personality nuances were operationalized as the 240 items of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). Their attributes were examined by analyzing item residuals, controlling for the variance of the facet the item had been assigned to and all other facets. Most nuances demonstrated significant (p < .0002) cross-method agreement and rank-order stability. A substantial proportion of them (48% in self-reports, 20% in informant ratings, and 50% in combined ratings) demonstrated a significant (p < .0002) component of additive genetic variance, whereas evidence for environmental influences shared by twins was modest. Applying a procedure to estimate stability and heritability of true scores of item residuals yielded estimates comparable with those of higher-order personality traits, with median estimates of rank-order stability and heritability being .77 and .52, respectively. Few nuances demonstrated robust associations with age and gender, but many showed incremental, conceptually meaningful, and replicable (across methods and/or samples) predictive validity for a range of interest domains and body mass index. We argue that these narrow personality characteristics constitute a valid level of the personality hierarchy. They may be especially useful for providing a deep and contextualized description of the individual, but also for the prediction of specific outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record.

PMID:
27124378
DOI:
10.1037/pspp0000100
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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