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Psychological Theories on Lexical Hypothesis - Dictionary of Arguments

Corr I 149
Lexical hypothesis/psychological theories/McCrae: the lexical hypothesis argues that traits are so important in human affairs that common words will have been invented to name them all.
VsLexical Hypthesis: However, the great majority of personality psychologists did not adopt the lexical hypothesis. They were skeptical that the lay vocabulary could be a proper basis for a scientific account of traits, and they tended to offer and defend their own, competing systems. Eysenck (1947)(1) proposed a highly simplified system with only two factors, E and N; Jungian psychologists assessed four psychological preferences (Myers and McCaulley 1985)(2); Block (1961)(3) created a set of 100 theoretically-eclectic descriptors intended for use in clinical research.
Corr I 150
Problems: Most personality assessment takes the form of self-report inventories, in which respondents are asked to say if, or how well, each of a series of statements describes them. This has proven to be a very useful technique, but it is by no means perfect. People may not understand the questions, or they may not understand themselves. It was, therefore, an important advance when psychologists showed that there was substantial (though not complete) agreement between descriptions from self-reports and those obtained when the same questions were put to knowledgeable informants – spouses, roommates, friends (Funder 1980(4); Kurtz and Sherker 2003)(5).
The FFM was subsequently found using Q-sort methods, in which people sort statements from most to least characteristic (Lanning 1994(6); McCrae, Costa and Busch 1986)(7), and even in sentence completion tests, in which people describe themselves in response to the question, ‘Who am I?’ (McCrae and Costa 1988)(8).
The Big Five Inventory (Benet-Martínez and John 1998)(9) is another widely-used measure of the five factors; De Raad and Perugini (2002)(10) have edited an entire volume devoted to alternative measures of the FFM in a variety of languages. ((s) See also >Language/psychological theories, >Cultural psychology, >Concepts/McCrae.


1. Eysenck, H. J. 1947. Dimensions of personality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
2. Myers, I. B. and McCaulley, M. H. 1985. Manual: a guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press
3. Block, J. 1961. The Q-sort method in personality assessment and psychiatric psychiatric research, Springfield, IL: Thomas
4. Funder, D. C. 1980. On seeing ourselves as others see us: self-other agreement and discrepancy in personality ratings, Journal of Personality 48: 473–93
5. Kurtz, J. E. and Sherker, J. L. 2003. Relationship quality, trait similarity, and self-other agreement on personality traits in college roommates, Journal of Personality 71: 21–48
6. Lanning, K. 1994. Dimensionality of observer ratings on the California Adult Q-Set, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67: 151–60
7. McCrae, R. R., Costa, P. T., Jr and Busch, C. M. 1986. Evaluating comprehensiveness in personality systems: the California Q-Set and the Five-Factor Model, Journal of Personality 54: 430–46
8. McCrae, R. R., and Costa, P. T. 1988. Age, personality, and the spontaneous self-concept, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 43: S177–S185
9. Benet-Martínez, V. and John, O. P. 1998. Los cinco Grandes across cultures and ethnic groups: multitrait multimethod analyses of the Big Five in Spanish and English, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75: 729–50
10. De Raad, B. and Perugini, M. (eds.) 2002. Big Five assessment. Göttingen: Hogrefe and Huber Publishers


Robert R. McCrae, “The Five-Factor Model of personality traits: consensus and controversy”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-04-12
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