What do we assess when we assess a Big 5 trait? A content analysis of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive processes represented in Big 5 personality inventories

Lisa M.Pytlik Zillig, Scott H. Hemenover, Richard A. Dienstbier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

135 Scopus citations


What are personality traits? Are all "broad" trails equally broad in the constructs they encompass and in the pervasiveness of their effects? Or are some traits more or less affective, behavioral, or cognitive in nature? The present study examined these issues as they applied to the Big 5 traits of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Expert and novice raters judged the extent to which items from four popular Big 5 inventories contain behavioral, cognitive, or affective components. Traits and inventories were then compared in terms of their relative assessment of these components. Results indicate convergence among inventories but remarkable differences between traits. These findings have implications for the conceptualization and assessment of traits and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this