We applied multivariate models specifying genetic and environmental influences on adjectives describing each of the five personality domains specified in the Big Five Model of personality (BFM; Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness). We selected the specific models to partition the observed covariance among the adjectives describing each domain into genetic and environmental components in order to assess the etiologic basis for each domain's phenotypic coherence. The sample on which our analyses were based was part of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS). It consisted of 315 monozygotic and 275 same-sex dizygotic twin pairs. Results revealed both common and specific genetic and environmental influences for each domain, suggesting that all of the domains are etiologically complex. Models specifying the domains as latent phenotypic constructs fit more poorly than models suggesting more complex structures for all domains except Extraversion and Neuroticism. These results raise questions about the BFM as a coherent model of genetic and environmental influences on personality or, alternatively, about the etiological unity of latent phenotypic personality trait constructs beyond Extraversion and Neuroticism.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development, and by National Institute on Aging Grant # AG20166. We thank Tom Bouchard, Kerry Jang, John Loehlin, Kristian Markon, Matt McGue, Chris Patrick, Carol Ryff, Auke Tellegen, and David Watson for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
- Big Five Model
- Genetic and environmental influences
- Personality structure
- Twin study