The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research

John OP, Angleitner A, Ostendorf F (1988)
European Journal of Personality 2(3): 171-203.

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Journal Article | Published | English
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We review research aimed at the development of a compelling taxonomy of personality-descriptive terms. We identify five issues central to the construction of personality taxonomies and discuss the advantages and limitations of the lexical approach. Our review of research stimulated by this approach begins with Allport and Odbert’s trait names, retraces the procedures that led to Cattell’s personality factors, and summarizes contemporary work in English and in Dutch. Taxonomers and lay people alike view stable traits as the most fundamental personality concepts. At the broadest level of abstraction, this domain is often represented by five dimensions related to Power (or Surgency), Love (Agreeableness), Work (Conscientiousness), Affect (Emotional Stability), and Intellect (Culture). However, given that their number and interpretation are still debated, these dimensions should not be considered final but as a heuristically useful framework. Indeed, if the fifth dimension represents Intellect, our review suggests that Culture, Values and even Autonomy-Conformity might be additional dimensions. Some researchers, such as Goldberg and Wiggins, have constructed more narrow categories to permit a differentiated mapping of trait descriptors. Taxonomies of states, activities, and social roles and effects still need to be developed; a broad conception of personality might also include health, fitness, and physical attractiveness. A comprehensive taxonomy would provide a common framework for research guided by different theoretical orientations and could guide the selection of variables for research. Ultimately, the value of a taxonomy depends on its success in predicting important outcomes in people’s lives.
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John OP, Angleitner A, Ostendorf F. The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research. European Journal of Personality. 1988;2(3):171-203.
John, O. P., Angleitner, A., & Ostendorf, F. (1988). The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research. European Journal of Personality, 2(3), 171-203.
John, O. P., Angleitner, A., and Ostendorf, F. (1988). The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research. European Journal of Personality 2, 171-203.
John, O.P., Angleitner, A., & Ostendorf, F., 1988. The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research. European Journal of Personality, 2(3), p 171-203.
O.P. John, A. Angleitner, and F. Ostendorf, “The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research”, European Journal of Personality, vol. 2, 1988, pp. 171-203.
John, O.P., Angleitner, A., Ostendorf, F.: The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research. European Journal of Personality. 2, 171-203 (1988).
John, Oliver P., Angleitner, Alois, and Ostendorf, Fritz. “The lexical approach to personality: A historical review of trait taxonomic research”. European Journal of Personality 2.3 (1988): 171-203.
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