Robert Roger McCrae was born April 28, 1949 in Maryville, Missouri, a town of 13,000 people located about 100 miles north of Kansas City. Maryville is home to Northwest Missouri State, the town's largest employer. McCrae, the youngest of three children bom to Andrew McCrae and Eloise Elahie McCrae, grew up with an avid interest in science and mathematics. By the time he entered Michigan State University he had decided to study philosophy. A National Merit Scholar, he nevertheless was not completely happy with the open-ended and non-empirical nature of philosophy. After completing Ins undergraduate degree, he entered graduate school at Boston University with a major hi psychology. Given his inclination and talent for math and science, McCrae found himself intrigued by the psychometric work of Raymond Cattell. In particular, he became curious about using factor analysis to search for a shnple method for identifying the structural traits found hi the dictionary. At Boston University, McCrae's major professor was Henry Wehiberg, a clinical psychologist with only a peripheral interest in personality traits. Hence, McCrae's interest in traits had to be nourished more internally than externally.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Walter Mischel (see Chapter 17) was questioning the notion that personality traits are consistent, claiming that the situation is more important than any personality trait. Although Mischel lias shice revised Ins stance on the consistency of personality, his views were accepted by many psychologists during those years. In a personal communication dated May 4, 1999, McCrae wrote: "I attended graduate school in the years after Mischel's (1968) critique of trait psychology. Many psychologists at the thne were prepared to believe that traits were nothing but response sets, stereotypes, or cognitive fictions. That never made any sense to me, and my early research experience showing remarkable stability hi longitudinal studies encouraged the belief that traits were real and enduring." Nevertheless, McCrae's work on traits while in graduate school was a relatively lonely enterprise, being conducted quietly and without much fanfare. As it turns out, this quiet approach was well-suited to Ins own relatively quiet and hitroverted personality.
In 1975, 4 years into his PhD program, McCrae's desthiy was about to change. He was sent by Ins advisor to work as a research assistant with James Fozard an adult developmental psychologist at the Normative Aghig Study at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clime hi Boston. It was Fozard who referred McCrae to another Boston-based personality psychologist, Paul T. Costa Jr., who was on the faculty at University of Massachusetts at Boston.
After McCrae completed his PhD hi 1976, Costa hired him as project director and co-principal hivestigator for his Smoking and Personality Grant. McCrae and Costa worked together on this project for 2 years, until they both were lured by the National Institute on Aging's Gerontology Research Center, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) housed in Balthnore. Costa was lined as the chief of the section on stress and coping, whereas McCrae took the position as senior staff fellow. Because the Gerontology Research Center already had large, well-established datasets of adults, it was an ideal place for Costa and McCrae to hivestigate the question of how personality is structured. During the 1970s, with the shadow of Mischel's influence still hanging heavily over the study of personality and with the concept of traits being nearly a taboo subject, Costa and McCrae conducted work on traits that ensured them a prominent role in the 40-year history of analyzing the structure of personality.
Paul T. Costa, Jr. was bom September 16, 1942 in Franklin, New Hampshire, the son of Paul T. Costa, Sr. and Esther Vasil Costa. He earned his undergraduate degree hi psychology at Clark University hi 1964 and both his master's (1968) and PhD (1970) hi human development from the University of Chicago. His longstanding interests in individual differences and the nature of personality mcreased greatly in the stimulating intellectual environment at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, he worked with Salvatore R. Maddi, with whom he published a book on humanistic personality theory (Maddi & Costa, 1972). After receivmg his PhD, he taught for 2 years at Harvard and then from 1973 to 1978 at University of Massachusetts-Boston. In 1978, he began workmg at the National Institute of Aging's Gerontology Research Center, becoming the chief for the Section on Stress and Copmg and then in 1985 chief for the Laboratory of Personality & Cognition. That same year, 1985, he became president of Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) of the American Psychological Association. Among his other list of accomplishments are fellow of American Psychological Association hi 1977 and president of International Society for the Study of Individual Differences hi 1995. Costa and his wife Karol Sandra Costa, have three children, Nhia, Lora, and Nicholas.
The collaboration between Costa and McCrae has been unusually fruitful, with well over 200 co-authored research articles and chapters, and several books, including Emerging Lives, Enduring Dispositions (McCrae & Costa, 1984), Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective 2nd ed. (McCrae & Costa, 2003), and Revised NEO Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
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