Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

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


NUMEROUS STUDIES HAVE DOCUMENTED THE PHENOMENON OF PHONETIC IMITATION: the process by which the production patterns of an individual become more similar on some phonetic or acoustic dimension to those of her interlocutor. Though social factors have been suggested as a motivator for imitation, few studies has established a tight connection between language-external factors and a speaker’s likelihood to imitate. The present study investigated the phenomenon of phonetic imitation using a within-subject design embedded in an individual-differences framework. Participants were administered a phonetic imitation task, which included two speech production tasks separated by a perceptual learning task, and a battery of measures assessing traits associated with Autism-Spectrum Condition, working memory, and personality. To examine the effects of subjective attitude on phonetic imitation, participants were randomly assigned to four experimental conditions, where the perceived sexual orientation of the narrator (homosexual vs. heterosexual) and the outcome (positive vs. negative) of the story depicted in the exposure materials differed. The extent of phonetic imitation by an individual is significantly modulated by the story outcome, as well as by the participant’s subjective attitude toward the model talker, the participant’s personality trait of openness and the autistic-like trait associated with attention switching.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Perception, Mimicry, Sexual orientation, Trait theory, Homosexuality, Openness to experience


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


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


The idea of animals possessing personalities was once dismissed by the scientific community, but has since gained traction with evidence for potential application to improve captive animal management and welfare. Although domestic cats are popular companion animals, research has tended to overlook the value of personality assessment for management and care of pet cats. The aim of this study was to investigate personality in a large sample of pet cats with a view to understanding practical implications for pet cats in the home. Personality of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand, was rated by their owners utilising a survey measuring 52 personality traits. Five reliable personality factors were found using principal axis factor analysis: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Implications for the ‘Feline Five’ are discussed in relation to their potential application to improving the management and welfare of pet cats. Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas cats with low Agreeableness scores, showing irritability may indicate underlying pain or illness. Thus, the need for a systematic and holistic approach to personality that includes both the individual pet cat and its environment is recommended, and opens the door to future interdisciplinary intervention.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Mammal, New Zealand, Cat, Felidae, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Felis


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


Adherence to norms and interventions to norm violations are two important forms of social behaviour modelled in economic games. While both appear to serve a prosocial function, they may represent separate mechanisms corresponding with distinct emotional and psychological antecedents, and thus may be predicted by different personality traits. In this study, we compared adherence to fairness norms in the dictator game with responses to violations of the same norms in third-party punishment and recompensation games with respect to prosocial traits from the Big Five and HEXACO models of personality. The results revealed a pattern of differential relations between prosocial traits and game behaviours. While norm adherence in the dictator game was driven by traits reflecting good manners and non-aggression (the politeness aspect of Big Five agreeableness and HEXACO honesty-humility), third-party recompensation of victims-and to a lesser extent, punishment of offenders-was uniquely driven by traits reflecting emotional concern for others (the compassion aspect of Big Five agreeableness). These findings demonstrate the discriminant validity between similar prosocial constructs and highlight the different prosocial motivations underlying economic game behaviours.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Sociology, Human behavior, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Agreeableness, Manners