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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Feb;52(2):409-18.

Differences between traits: properties associated with interjudge agreement.


The present study concerns the relation between properties of personality traits and the agreement with which they are applied to real individuals. Subjects rated the 100 personality items of the California Q-Set on nine subjective dimensions, six of which loaded highly on a first principal component. This factor was interpreted as reflecting each trait's "easy visibility" to an outside observer. Actual interjudge agreement in applying each trait to real individuals was assessed in two ways: Self-other agreement was assessed in two independent samples, and interpeer agreement was assessed in three samples. Impressive and stable agreement was found for most Q items. The traits that were applied to individuals with the greatest interjudge agreement were the same ones that seemed most easily visible and tended to be positively relevant to extraversion and negatively relevant to neuroticism (identified through a factor analysis by McCrae, Costa, & Busch, 1986). The results suggest that traits defining extraversion are revealed relatively directly in social behavior and, therefore, are easy to judge, that traits defining neuroticism are less visible and, so, are judged less accurately, and that lay perceivers of personality are generally sensitive to this difference between traits.

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