DSM-5 to include the Big 5

The Five Factor Model in the DSM-5

The current Axis II disorders will be replaced by a mixture of continuously-rated personality disorder types (carrying forward psychopathy, avoidant, borderline, obsessive-compulsive, and schizotypal) and 6 personality traits. According to the rationale, four of the traits are pathological versions of 4 of the Big Five (Openness/Intellect apparently doesn’t have a pathological extreme).

h/t John D Cook

Limitations of the Big 5

I talk a lot about the Big 5 personality factors, and how useful they are. So now it is time to discuss the problems with the Big 5. As in so many things, I am indebted to Steve Sailer for bringing these up first.

Problem 1 is cheating. A person who knows how these traits work can present any personality they wish on a personality test, which is really more of a self-guided assessment. This limits their use for school and work purposes. I have to watch for this myself when I take the tests now, because I know what each question is getting at. In some ways, the best assessment is the first one.

Problem 2 is cross-cultural validity. Unlike IQ tests, where the psychometricians have long since figured out how to take cultural-bias out of tests, Big 5 tests ask about behavioral responses, which vary a lot between different groups. Big 5 tests seem to not even work very well comparing different states to each other in the USA, much less to other countries. This is less of a problem if the group is self-selected, like med students say, then the comparisons are likely to be much more fruitful. I think this is one reason why the Big 5 is so much less directive about career than the MBTI has been. There just aren't meaningful correlations between the usefulness of conscientiousness for both doctors and sales clerks.

First Impressions

A fun open access paper about personality judgments based on seeing just a picture of someone. One of the authors is Samuel Gosling, whose work lies behind the online Big 5 personality test I recommend to the curious. You can learn a lot just by looking at someone, and in this paper they break down how different things strike observers. Hairstyle, manner of dress, posture, expression, there are many visual cues that tell us something about personality.

There are a number of other studies referenced in the paper that demonstrate the additive value of seeing someone in person or on video. There are many other cues that are dynamic, and thus harder to see in a picture. However, you don't need much time to form pretty accurate judgments in this fashion, although unsurprisingly the accuracy goes up with more exposure.

h/t Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Big 5 Personality Traits: OCEAN

I have mentioned the Big 5 personality traits before, and the biggest of them all is Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness, or C, is a measure of one's ability to buckle down and work hard, especially at unpleasant tasks. It is correlated with job performance and doing well in school. It is partly heritable, and relatively stable over time. That doesn't mean that C doesn't change over time, rather, it means that relative rankings of C stay the same over time. One unsurprising result of the research on C is that C increases over time. Basically, as one gets older, it is easier to defer gratification and take the long view. However, people who were more conscientious to begin with will still be more conscientious than their similarly aged peers 20 years later.

The five traits of the OCEAN model emerged from research into personality. Researchers analyzed personality questionnaires using factor analysis, and discovered that the answers tended to fall into five groups. These five groups were named Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. I like the OCEAN model better than scales like the Myers-Briggs, because each trait has real contraries. Either you are introverted, or extroverted, or somewhere in between. The MBTI's sixteen types don't seem all that well distinguished to me. This is perhaps due to the remove from the Jungian theory that spawned it, but it is often hard to tell which type really applies to a given person.

If you are curious where you rank on the OCEAN model, you can take an online test that is part of the research of Dr. Samuel Gosling. I have linked my results below. I especially like the part about a messy desk!

I'm a O88-C2-E7-A8-N22 Big Five!!