Six approaches to the explication of facet-level traits: Examples from conscientiousness

Paul T. Costa, Robert R. McCrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Proponents of the Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality have argued for somewhat different conceptualizations of the factors. Ultimately, the factors are best understood by a specification of the traits (or facets) that define them, and these facets in turn must be clearly conceptualized. Using as examples the Conscientiousness facet scales of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, we discuss six approaches to understanding facet-level traits: (i) rational analysis of item content; (ii) characterization of the low pole, the psychological opposite; (iii) interpretation of external correlates; (iv) examination of secondary and tertiary factor loadings; (v) translation into the specialized languages of applied psychology; and (vi) case studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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