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Concept: Personality traits


Previous research has found that most people want to change their personality traits. But can people actually change their personalities just because they want to? To answer this question, we conducted 2, 16-week intensive longitudinal randomized experiments. Across both studies, people who expressed goals to increase with respect to any Big Five personality trait at Time 1 tended to experience actual increases in their self-reports of that trait-as well as trait-relevant daily behavior-over the subsequent 16 weeks. Furthermore, we tested 2 randomized interventions designed to help participants attain desired trait changes. Although 1 of the interventions was inefficacious, a second intervention that trained participants to generate implementation intentions catalyzed their ability to attain trait changes. We also tested several theoretical processes through which volitional changes might occur. These studies suggest that people may be able to change their self-reported personality traits through volitional means, and represent a first step toward understanding the processes that enable people to do so. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Psychoticism, Openness to experience


Despite the widespread assumption that extraverts are the most productive salespeople, research has shown weak and conflicting relationships between extraversion and sales performance. In light of these puzzling results, I propose that the relationship between extraversion and sales performance is not linear but curvilinear: Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers' interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident. A study of 340 outbound-call-center representatives supported the predicted inverted-U-shaped relationship between extraversion and sales revenue. This research presents a fresh perspective on the personality traits that facilitate successful influence and offers novel insights for people in choosing jobs and for organizations in hiring and training employees.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Sales, Personality traits, Revenue, Customer service, Extraversion and introversion, Pigeonholing


OBJECTIVE:  Two dimensions of the Big Five, Extraversion and Agreeableness, are strongly related to interpersonal behavior. Factor analysis has indicated that each of the Big Five contains two separable but related aspects. The present study examined the manner in which the aspects of Extraversion (Assertiveness and Enthusiasm) and Agreeableness (Compassion and Politeness) relate to interpersonal behavior and trait affiliation, with the hypothesis that these four aspects have a structure corresponding to the octants of the interpersonal circumplex. A second hypothesis was that measures of trait affiliation would fall between the Enthusiasm and Compassion aspects of Extraversion and Agreeableness, respectively, in the IPC. METHOD:  These hypotheses were tested in three demographically different samples (N = 469; 249; 409) using both behavioral frequency and trait measures of the interpersonal circumplex, in conjunction with the Big Five Aspect Scales (BFAS) and measures of trait affiliation. RESULTS: Both hypotheses were strongly supported. CONCLUSIONS:  These findings provide a more thorough and precise mapping of the interpersonal traits within the Big Five and support the integration of the Big Five with models of interpersonal behavior and trait affiliation.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Personality psychology, Human behavior, Personality traits, 16 Personality Factors, Agreeableness, Interpersonal Circumplex


Personality is thought to affect obesity risk but before such information can be incorporated into prevention and intervention plans, robust and converging evidence concerning the most relevant personality traits is needed. We performed a meta-analysis based on individual-participant data from nine cohort studies to examine whether broad-level personality traits predict the development and persistence of obesity (n = 78,931 men and women; mean age 50 years). Personality was assessed using inventories of the Five-Factor Model (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience). High conscientiousness - reflecting high self-control, orderliness and adherence to social norms - was associated with lower obesity risk across studies (pooled odds ratio [OR] = 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.80-0.88 per 1 standard deviation increment in conscientiousness). Over a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, conscientiousness predicted lower obesity risk in initially non-obese individuals (OR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.85-0.92; n = 33,981) and was associated with greater likelihood of reversion to non-obese among initially obese individuals (OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.01-1.14; n = 9,657). Other personality traits were not associated with obesity in the pooled analysis, and there was substantial heterogeneity in the associations between studies. The findings indicate that conscientiousness may be the only broad-level personality trait of the Five-Factor Model that is consistently associated with obesity across populations.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Psychoticism, Openness to experience


The present cross-sectional study investigated age and gender differences in motivational manifestations of the Big Five in a large German-speaking Internet sample (N = 19,022). Participants ranging in age from 16 to 60 years completed the Five Individual Reaction Norms Inventory (FIRNI; Denissen & Penke, 2008a), and two traditional Big Five measures. Age differences were found suggesting that mean levels of neuroticism and extraversion are negatively associated with age, whereas agreeableness and conscientiousness are positively associated. Openness to experience demonstrated a curvilinear association with age, with the highest mean levels in midlife. Gender differences were found suggesting that women, on average, have higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness, while men are more open to experience. Neither the main effect of gender nor Age × Gender interactions were significant in the case of conscientiousness. In comparison to the 2 traditional Big Five measures, age differences in the motivational manifestations of the Big Five as assessed by the FIRNI were more pronounced, which might be explained by the greater developmental plasticity of flexible motivational processes or the intraindividual phrasing of the items of the FIRNI, compared to the kinds of behavioral descriptions that are emphasized in traditional Big Five items. The further study of such motivational processes might contribute to a better understanding of personality development. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Human behavior, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Openness to experience


Sandal, G. M. Bye, H. H. & Pallesen, S. (2012). Personality trait inferences of Turkish immigrant and neutral targets: An experimental study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 528-533. The study investigated whether personality traits attributed to immigrant targets differ from personality inferences made for a neutral target, and whether trait attributions differ for assimilated and integrated immigrant targets. Participants (n = 340) were randomized to one of three conditions in which they read the same story about a person, but where the person was described as either: (a) an assimilated Turkish immigrant; (b) an integrated Turkish immigrant; or © neutral (no nationality or religious practice indicated). Subsequently, they rated the personality of the described person on the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (observer rating version) and completed the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (Impression Management scale) with reference to themselves. Both immigrant targets were rated as significantly higher on extraversion and lower on neuroticism than the neutral target. The integrated target was rated as more open than the neutral target, and as higher than the assimilated target on neuroticism when controlling for impression management.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, 16 Personality Factors, Psychoticism


Stable personality traits have long been presumed to have biological substrates, although the evidence relating personality to biological stress reactivity is inconclusive. The present study examined, in a large middle aged cohort (N = 352), the relationship between key personality traits and both cortisol and cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress. Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular activity were measured at rest and in response to a psychological stress protocol comprising 5-minutes each of a Stroop task, mirror tracing, and a speech task. Participants subsequently completed the Big Five Inventory to assess neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Those with higher neuroticism scores exhibited smaller cortisol and cardiovascular stress reactions, whereas participants who were less agreeable and less open had smaller cortisol and cardiac reactions to stress. These associations remained statistically significant following adjustment for a range of potential confounding variables. Thus, a negative personality disposition would appear to be linked to diminished stress reactivity. These findings further support a growing body of evidence which suggests that blunted stress reactivity may be maladaptive.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Openness to experience, Agreeableness


Background and Aims: Both personality changes and behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPS) may be associated with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in later life and help identify incipient dementia. We wished to investigate the links between personality and BPS in MCI. Method: We studied premorbid personality traits as estimated 5 years back and their changes in 83 control subjects and 52 MCI patients using the revised NEO Personality Inventory for the Five-Factor Model completed by a proxy. Information on BPS was obtained using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). Analyses were controlled for current depression and anxiety. Results: Premorbid neuroticism and openness to experience were associated with the total NPI score. The changes in neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experiences, and conscientiousness were associated with apathy and affective symptoms. Conclusions: Personality changes and BPS occur in MCI. The occurrence of affective BPS and apathy is associated with both premorbid personality traits and their changes.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Openness to experience


Personality traits are associated with adverse health outcomes in old age, but their association with motor function is unclear. We tested the hypothesis that neuroticism and extraversion are associated with motor decline in older persons.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Gerontology, Old age, Ageing, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits


Participants were asked to assess their own personality (i.e. Big Five scales), the personality of politicians shown in brief silent video clips, and the probability that they would vote for these politicians. Response surface analyses (RSA) revealed noteworthy effects of self-ratings and observer-ratings of openness, agreeableness, and emotional stability on voting probability. Furthermore, the participants perceived themselves as being more open, more agreeable, more emotionally stable, and more extraverted than the average politician. The study supports previous findings that first impressions affect decision making on important issues. Results also indicate that when only nonverbal information is available people prefer political candidates they perceive as having personality traits they value in themselves.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Emotion, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits