Nathaniel L. Phillips, Kaela Van Til, Donald R. Lynam, Joshua D. Miller

A comprehensive item‐level examination of Conscientiousness' underlying structure across three large samples

  • Social Psychology

AbstractObjectiveThe present study examined the hierarchical structure of Conscientiousness across three large samples using item‐level analyses.BackgroundConscientiousness is among the strongest predictors of individual differences in major life outcomes. Yet decades of work understanding the optimal lower‐order structure of Conscientiousness has not rectified the differences that remain among existing models and measures. To precisely measure its relations to major life outcomes, it is necessary to work toward a comprehensive, replicable conceptualization of the construct's structure.MethodsThe present pre‐registered study used three samples (Ns = 446, 406, & 424) to explore the domain's latent structure with item‐level “bass‐ackward” factor analyses and evaluate the resulting structure's interpretability, parsimony, and replicability. Participants completed self‐report measures of Conscientiousness and criteria in its nomological network (e.g., FFM traits, externalizing behavior, disinhibitory traits; informant reports were collected as well).ResultsThe factor analyses identified five interpretable and replicable factors (i.e., deliberation, order, industriousness, self‐discipline, and dependability) using predominant measures of general personality. An additional factor (i.e., traditionalism) was introduced in the six‐factor solution when the item pool was expanded to include less widely used measures of general personality.ConclusionThe authors discuss the item composition of each factor, their relation to existing models and measures of the domain's structure, their association with relevant criteria, and the general implications of conceptualizing Conscientiousness using flexible, item‐level factor analysis.

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