Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 28 No. 6, June 2002, pp. 847-858. Published by Sage Publications. © 2002 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. Used by permission.


What are personality traits? Are all “broad” traits 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.