Substance and Artifact in the Higher-Order Factors of the Big Five

Robert R. McCrae, Shinji Yamagata, Kerry L. Jang, Rainer Riemann, Juko Ando, Yutaka Ono, Alois Angleitner, Frank M. Spinath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


J. M. Digman (1997) proposed that the Big Five personality traits showed a higher-order structure with 2 factors he labeled α and β. These factors have been alternatively interpreted as heritable components of personality or as artifacts of evaluative bias. Using structural equation modeling, the authors reanalyzed data from a cross-national twin study and from American cross-observer studies and analyzed new multimethod data from a German twin study. In all analyses, artifact models outperformed substance models by root-mean-square error of approximation criteria, but models combining both artifact and substance were slightly better. These findings suggest that the search for the biological basis of personality traits may be more profitably focused on the 5 factors themselves and their specific facets, especially in monomethod studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-455
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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