Do the Big Five Theories of Personality Do Full Justice To The Complexities of Human Behaviour

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Do the Big Five Theories of Personality Do Full Justice To The Complexities of Human Behaviour

Personality has been described as the “pattern of characteristic thoughts, feelings and behaviours that distinguishes one person from another and that persists over time and situations” (Phares 1997). This essay will look at what complex human behaviours are and whether it is possible to predict them with a Model of Personality. The benefits and downfalls of the Five Factor Model of Personality will be considered and whether Human Behaviour is fully encompassed by the model will be discussed.

        Models of Personality have been made to try and predict how and why people behave in certain ways. In the past twenty years two models have dominated in the area of personality research. One model is Eysenck's three-factor model, also known as the Giant Three model (). Normans model assumes that personality is best described in terms of five factors, or the Big Five, and is usually referred to as the Big Five model (John, 1990).

        Eysenck used factor analysis to study personality and believed that peoples personality could be described using two main traits, introversion and its opposite extroversion and emotionality with its opposite stability and a sliding scale of characteristics in between them. Later Eysenck added Psychoticism to this list of traits. Eysenck argued that peoples placing on the scale was because of inherited differences in their nervous system and brains (Bernstein 2003). This model laid down the groundwork for the Big Five Model of Personality.  

The Big Five model is “based on a lexical approach to personality it uses natural language adjectives and theoretically based personality questionnaires” (Cox , Borger, Taylor, Fuentes & Ross 1999) to study personality. This model was made by looking at thousands of adjectives taking out synonyms, slang and uncommon or complicated words and reducing the descriptions into five main traits and a number of secondary traits that come from these. The five-factor model is made up of five traits that supposedly determine ones personality. Although slightly different terms are sometimes used for these five factors, there is a general agreement regarding the first four: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability or Neuroticism. There has been some debate about the fifth factor, which has been labelled "Intellect" by Goldberg (1990) and "Openness" by McCrae and Costa (1985). This debate over the fifth factor takes nothing away from the validity of the model. These labels are chosen to describe a persons central traits, the characteristics usually apparent to others that organise and control behaviour.

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Support has shown that the Big Five model can be applied across observers and cultures. “Cross-cultural evidence for the existence of the Big Five factors has come from studies from a number of different countries using a number of different languages, such as German and Dutch (Goldberg, & Ostendorf, 1997), Spanish (Benet-Martínez & John, 1998), Italian (Caprara & Perugini, 1993) as well as Asian languages like Chinese (Trull & Geary, 1997)” (Scholte & De Bruyn 2003). The most widely used measure of the big five is the revised NEO Personality Inventory (Neo-pi-r; Costa & McCrae, 1992) “This instrument has received ...

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