A famous historical and current debate in psychology concerns the number of dimensions that most accurately describe the broadest themes in individual differences in personality. For example, famous psychologists Raymond B. Cattell (1946) derived 16 primary dimensions from factor analytical techniques, whereas Hans Eysenck (1960) proposed that trait descriptors can be subsumed under two ubiquitous factors he called Neu-roticism and Extraversion. A competing and popular model of personality called the Big-Five suggests that there are five superordinate factors: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. These domains are operationalized and measured by the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992).
The NEO PI-R is comprised of 243 self-report items rated on a 5-point scale. It measures the five global factors as well as six facets for each domain. Specifically, the facets for Neuroticism are anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability. Facets for Extraversion are warmth, gre-gariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, and positive emotions. Facets for Openness to Experience are fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas, and values. Facets for Agreeableness are trust, modesty, compliance, altruism, straightforwardness, and tender-mindedness. Facets for Conscientiousness are competence, self-discipline, achievement-striving, dutifulness, order, and deliberation. As can be seen, the five domains provide a general description of personality, whereas facet scales allow more detailed analysis.
Items on the NEO PI-R assess diverse aspects of traits including patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions. The factors and facets are all scored dimensionally so that an individual may score anywhere on the continuum from low to high on each scale. The NEO PI-R includes 3 validity items and can generally be completed in about 40 minutes. In addition to the self-report format, an observer report version is available in which the target person is rated by others. The NEO PI-R can be hand scored or computer scored. The Big-Five model and its measurement with the NEO PI-R have been evaluated in an impressive array of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and cross-cultural studies using diverse clinical and nonclinical populations (for a full review, see Costa & McCrae, 2006). An advantage of using the NEO PI-R is that it offers an alternative approach to the categorical distinction of normality versus abnormality. A disadvantage is that the NEO PI-R is not a direct measure of personality disorders, although Widiger, Costa, and McCrae (2002) suggest that an understanding of personality pathology can be guided by general personality traits.
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