Mittwoch, 18. Dezember 2013

Metatraits of the Big Five Differentially Predict Engagement and Restraint of Behavior

Metatraits of the Big Five Differentially Predict Engagement and Restraint of Behavior
Jacob B. Hirsh, Colin G. DeYoung,  and Jordan B. Peterson; 2009


Although initially believed to contain orthogonal dimensions, the Big Five personality taxonomy appears to have a replicable higher-order structure, with the metatrait of Plasticity reflecting the shared variance between Extraversion and Openness/Intellect, and the meta-trait of Stability reflecting the shared variance among Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. These higher order traits have been theorized to relate to individual differences in the functioning of the dopamine and serotonin systems, respectively. As dopamine is associated with exploration and incentive-related action, and serotonin with satiety and constraint, this neuropharmacological trait theory has behavioral implications, which we tested in 307 adults by examining the association of a large number of behavioral acts with multi-informant reports of the metatraits. The frequencies of acts were consistently positively correlated with Plasticity and negatively correlated with Stability. At the broadest level of description, variation in human personality appears to reflect engagement and restraint of behavior.


  1. Thank, it's nice that someone digs up these articles, although I rarely agree with the Big Five people.

    They'd be better off coming up with a theory first and measures later. Which is what people who have actual theories do, like Cloninger and Zuckerman.

    A big mistake is also to put the facet of thrill-seeking in extraversion because there are so many extraverts with little or none of that. I'd have to side with Eysenck, I believe it is more about attention and wakefulness than anything else. That facet is probably the main reason why extraversion can be considered a dopamine trait. It's like how obesity is linked to neuroticism but only through the facet of impulsivity. And yet this is presented as a link to the broader factor and becomes "emotional overeater" in popular science media outlets. And what about impulsivity? I'd say impulsive people can be very engaging, and the link to dopamine isn't even controversial but it's buried in the Restraint factor. Weird.

  2. Also, I'm putting you on my blogroll but I'm not sure whether to categorize this blog as science, hbd or psychology. Any ideas?

  3. Hi Staffan,
    It's a honour to get on your blogroll. :-) Maybe HBD would fit best.

    I think Colin De Young's articles are thought provoking. For that reason I like to read them. But, as your comment shows, one has to read them with a good amount of scepticism.