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Does the Five Factor Model Provide a Solid Foundation for an Adequate Personality Psychology?

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Introduction

Does the Five Factor Model Provide a Solid Foundation for an Adequate Personality Psychology? In this essay, first the Five Factor Model (FFM) will be described. Secondly, psychologists for and against the model will be looked at. Following this, the stability of traits will be looked at, both longitudinal and cross situational. Finally, the application of the model within and outside psychology will be evaluated to show support that the FFM provides a solid foundation for an adequate personality psychology. "The Five Factor Model provides a compelling framework for building personality measures that seek to represent the domain of individual terms broadly and systematically" (Briggs, 1989 as cited in McAdams. DP, 1992, p. 332). The FFM consists of five factors (The 'Big Five'). They are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. When measured individuals can range from extremes on each of these traits. The FFM suggests that these factors are both fixed and stable and make up our personality. The FFM was designed to establish the basic units of personality by having everyday people rate themselves or others using words sampled from the dictionary (John, Angleitner, and Ostendorf, 1988 as cited in Pervin. AL, Cervone, D, Oliver. PJ, 2004). Many studies like this have been conducted and after factor analysing the ratings the five factors mentioned above were consistently found. ...read more.

Middle

This has been shown to be valid across both spouses and peers. For the FFM to have a solid foundation for an adequate personality psychology factors must be stable otherwise it would not be a valid measurement of personality. There are two types of stability, longitudinal and cross situational. Even trait theorists do not believe that if we are an aggressive person we will behave aggressively in every situation. They argue that traits are stable across a range of situations (Pervin. AL, Cervone, D, Oliver. PJ, 2004). Longitudinal stability means that the measurement of each factor will be consistent across time. Evidence by Costa and McCrae found that if person X is more extraverted than person Y at 30 they will also be at 40 (McCrae and Costa, 1990, p.45 as cited in Pervin. AL, Cervone, D, Oliver. PJ, 2004). This was also confirmed by consistent results in ratings by spouses and peers. A study by Hartshorne and May: Mischel and Peake, 1983 (as cited in Pervin. AL, Cervone, D, Oliver. PJ, 2004) showed that students who showed up to lectures and took good notes at the beginning of the year also did at the end of the year, supporting the stability of traits over time. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last topic that was covered was the application of the model both within and outside of psychology. There is strong support for its application in both mental and physical health improvement as well as its application to businesses in selecting employees. As well as the three topics covered in this essay other research such as cross cultural studies and studies into trait stability from childhood to adulthood also show consistent results to support the validity of the FFM. There are limitations to the FFM theory. Bandura, 1999 (as cited in situations Pervin. AL, Cervone, D, Oliver. PJ, 2004) suggests the model is too simplistic. Also, there has not been much research conducted into the organisation of the traits, and whether or not it is important (McAdams. DP, 1992). One main limitation is that the theory and model are not idiographic. Personality psychology should study individuals and the FFM does not. But in response to this, most trait theorists like Eysenck and Cattell, "study populations of individuals and identify the most important individual differences in the population at large" (Pervin. AL, Cervone. D, Oliver. PJ, 2004, p 229). Overall, this essay has shown strong evidence in the consistency of findings that suggest the Five Factor Model does have a solid foundation for an adequate personality psychology, responding to criticisms with valid arguments. Its application to psychology and outside of psychology is also a convincing argument for the support of the model. ...read more.

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