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Concept: Trait theory


We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. The analysis presented is based on a dataset of over 58,000 volunteers who provided their Facebook Likes, detailed demographic profiles, and the results of several psychometric tests. The proposed model uses dimensionality reduction for preprocessing the Likes data, which are then entered into logistic/linear regression to predict individual psychodemographic profiles from Likes. The model correctly discriminates between homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases, African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases. For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test-retest accuracy of a standard personality test. We give examples of associations between attributes and Likes and discuss implications for online personalization and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, White American, Sexual orientation, African American, Neuroticism, Trait theory, Heterosexuality


Associations between personality traits, mental wellbeing and good health behaviours were examined to understand further the social and psychological context of the health divide.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Clinical psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Behavioural sciences


Grit-perseverance and passion for long-term goals-has been shown to be a significant predictor of academic success, even after controlling for other personality factors. Here, for the first time, we use a U.K.-representative sample and a genetically sensitive design to unpack the etiology of Grit and its prediction of academic achievement in comparison to well-established personality traits. For 4,642 16-year-olds (2,321 twin pairs), we used the Grit-S scale (perseverance of effort and consistency of interest), along with the Big Five personality traits, to predict grades on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, which are administered U.K.-wide at the end of compulsory education. Twin analyses of Grit perseverance yielded a heritability estimate of 37% (20% for consistency of interest) and no evidence for shared environmental influence. Personality, primarily conscientiousness, predicts about 6% of the variance in GCSE grades, but Grit adds little to this prediction. Moreover, multivariate twin analyses showed that roughly two-thirds of the GCSE prediction is mediated genetically. Grit perseverance of effort and Big Five conscientiousness are to a large extent the same trait both phenotypically (r = 0.53) and genetically (genetic correlation = 0.86). We conclude that the etiology of Grit is highly similar to other personality traits, not only in showing substantial genetic influence but also in showing no influence of shared environmental factors. Personality significantly predicts academic achievement, but Grit adds little phenotypically or genetically to the prediction of academic achievement beyond traditional personality factors, especially conscientiousness. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Scientific method, Genetics, Prediction, Futurology, Greek loanwords, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, 16 Personality Factors


Cognitive or intellectual investment theories propose that the development of intelligence is partially influenced by personality traits, in particular by so-called investment traits that determine when, where, and how people invest their time and effort in their intellect. This investment, in turn, is thought to contribute to individual differences in cognitive growth and the accumulation of knowledge across the life span. We reviewed the psychological literature and identified 34 trait constructs and corresponding scales that refer to intellectual investment. The dispositional constructs were further classified into 8 related trait categories that span the construct space of intellectual investment. Subsequently, we sought to estimate the association between the identified investment traits and indicators of adult intellect, including measures of crystallized intelligence, academic performance (e.g., grade point average), college entry tests, and acquired knowledge. A meta-analysis of 112 studies with 236 coefficients and an overall sample of 60,097 participants indicated that investment traits were mostly positively associated with adult intellect markers. Meta-analytic coefficients ranged considerably, from 0 to .58, with an average estimate of .30. We concluded that investment traits are overall positively related to adult intellect; the strength of investment-intellect associations differs across trait scales and markers of intellect; and investment traits have a diverse, multifaceted nature. The meta-analysis also identified areas of inquiry that are currently lacking in empirical research. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Educational psychology, Intelligence, All rights reserved, Trait theory, Raymond Cattell, Capital accumulation


Human awareness is highly limited, which is vividly demonstrated by the phenomenon that unexpected objects go unnoticed when attention is focused elsewhere (inattentional blindness). Typically, some people fail to notice unexpected objects while others detect them instantaneously. Whether this pattern reflects stable individual differences is unclear to date. In particular, hardly anything is known about the influence of personality on the likelihood of inattentional blindness. To fill this empirical gap, we examined the role of multiple personality factors, namely the Big Five, BIS/BAS, absorption, achievement motivation, and schizotypy, in these failures of awareness. In a large-scale sample (N = 554), susceptibility to inattentional blindness was associated with a low level of openness to experience and marginally with a low level of achievement motivation. However, in a multiple regression analysis, only openness emerged as an independent, negative predictor. This suggests that the general tendency to be open to experience extends to the domain of perception. Our results complement earlier work on the possible link between inattentional blindness and personality by demonstrating, for the first time, that failures to consciously perceive unexpected objects reflect individual differences on a fundamental dimension of personality.

Concepts: Psychology, Regression analysis, Personality psychology, Cognition, Mind, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Openness to experience


Studies in cognitive psychology showed that personality (openness to experience, thin boundaries, absorption), creativity, nocturnal awakenings, and attitude toward dreams are significantly related to dream recall frequency (DRF). These results suggest the possibility of neurophysiological trait differences between subjects with high and low DRF. To test this hypothesis we compared sleep characteristics and alpha reactivity to sounds in subjects with high and low DRF using polysomnographic recordings and electroencephalography (EEG). We acquired EEG from 21 channels in 36 healthy subjects while they were presented with a passive auditory oddball paradigm (frequent standard tones, rare deviant tones and very rare first names) during wakefulness and sleep (intensity, 50 dB above the subject’s hearing level). Subjects were selected as High-recallers (HR, DRF = 4.42 ± 0.25 SEM, dream recalls per week) and Low-recallers (LR, DRF = 0.25 ± 0.02) using a questionnaire and an interview on sleep and dream habits. Despite the disturbing setup, the subjects' quality of sleep was generally preserved. First names induced a more sustained decrease in alpha activity in HR than in LR at Pz (1000-1200 ms) during wakefulness, but no group difference was found in REM sleep. The current dominant hypothesis proposes that alpha rhythms would be involved in the active inhibition of the brain regions not involved in the ongoing brain operation. According to this hypothesis, a more sustained alpha decrease in HR would reflect a longer release of inhibition, suggesting a deeper processing of complex sounds than in LR during wakefulness. A possibility to explain the absence of group difference during sleep is that increase in alpha power in HR may have resulted in awakenings. Our results support this hypothesis since HR experienced more intra sleep wakefulness than LR (30 ± 4 vs. 14 ± 4 min). As a whole our results support the hypothesis of neurophysiological trait differences in high and low-recallers.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Sleep, Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Rapid eye movement sleep, Trait theory, Openness to experience


Abstract Job applicants and incumbents often use social media for personal communications allowing for direct observation of their social communications “unfiltered” for employer consumption. As such, these data offer a glimpse of employees in settings free from the impression management pressures present during evaluations conducted for applicant screening and research purposes. This study investigated whether job applicants' (N=175) personality characteristics are reflected in the content of their social media postings. Participant self-reported social media content related to (a) photos and text-based references to alcohol and drug use and (b) criticisms of superiors and peers (so-called “badmouthing” behavior) were compared to traditional personality assessments. Results indicated that extraverted candidates were prone to postings related to alcohol and drugs. Those low in agreeableness were particularly likely to engage in online badmouthing behaviors. Evidence concerning the relationships between conscientiousness and the outcomes of interest was mixed.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Drug addiction, Employment, Communication, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory


INTRODUCTION: Susceptibility to pain varies among individuals and may predispose to a higher risk for pain disorders. Thus, it is of interest to investigate subjects who exhibit higher resistance to pain. We therefore tested pain tolerance and assessed personality traits of ultra-marathon athletes who are able to run 4487 km (2789 mi) over 64 days without resting days and compare the results to controls. METHODS: After approval of the local ethics committee and with informed consent, 11 participants of the TransEurope FootRace (TEFR09 participants) and 11 matched (age, sex, and ethnicity) controls without marathon experience in the last 5 years were enrolled. They were tested for cold pain tolerance (cold pressor [CP] test), and the 240 item trait and character inventory (TCI) as well as the general self-efficacy (GSE) test were obtained. RESULTS: TransEurope FootRace participants had a highly significant greater cold pain tolerance in the CP test than controls (P = 0.0002). While the GSE test showed no differences, the TCI test provided TEFR09 participants to be less cooperative and reward dependent but more spiritually transcendent than the controls. Significant positive correlations were found between the CP test pain score at 180 seconds and several TCI subscales showing that higher pain scores correlate with higher reward dependence, dependence, cooperativeness, empathy, and pure-hearted conscience. CONCLUSIONS: Personality profiles as well as pain tolerance of our sample of TEFR09 participants differ from normal controls and-as obtained in previous studies-probably also from chronic pain patients. Low pain perception may predispose a person to become a long-distance runner. It remains unclear, however, whether low pain perception is cause or consequence of continuous extreme training.

Concepts: Psychology, Informed consent, Personality psychology, Pain, Neuroticism, Chronic pain, Trait theory, Marathon


ObjectiveResearch has revealed an association between personality traits and health outcomes, and in multiple sclerosis (MS), there are preliminary data showing a correlation between personality traits and brain volume. We examined the general hypothesis that personality influences the relationship between gray matter volume (GMV) and cognitive/neuropsychiatric MS features.MethodsParticipants were 98 patients with MS who underwent magnetic resonance imaging and were tested with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, the latter providing measures of depression and euphoria that can be characteristic of MS, that is, cheerful indifference and disinhibition. Personality traits were assessed with the NEO Five Factor Inventory. We examined the correlation between personality traits and both GMV and symptoms, and then modeled mediation and moderation influences on the relationships between GMV and cognitive/neuropsychiatric features.ResultsLinear regression modeling revealed that GMV (r = 0.54, p < .001) and NEO Five Factor Inventory low conscientiousness (r = 0.36, p = .001) were associated with cognitive function, but no mediator or moderator effects were observed. However, conscientiousness mediated the relationship between GMV and symptoms of euphoria (p = .002). The moderator analysis revealed a significant influence of high neuroticism on the GMV-euphoria relationship (p = .029).ConclusionsLow conscientiousness and high neuroticism are associated with neuropsychiatric complications in MS, and each influences the relationship between GMV and euphoria. The findings suggest that patients with low conscientiousness are at higher risk for MS-associated cognitive dysfunction and neuropsychiatric symptoms, a conclusion that has implications for the emerging role of personality in clinical neuroscience.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Personality psychology, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory


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