In Search of the Big Five

The study of traits was first begun by Allport and Odbert in the 1930s and continued by Cattell hi the 1940s and by Tupes, Cliristal, and Norman hi the 1960s (see John & Srivastava, 1999, for a historical review of the Five-Factor Model, or the Big-Five).

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Costa and McCrae, like most other factor researchers, were building elaborate taxonomies of personality traits, but they were not using these classifications to generate testable hypotheses. Instead they were simply using factor analytic techniques to examine the stability and structure of personality. During this time, Costa and McCrae focused initially on the two main dimensions of neuroticism and extraversión.

Ahnost immediately after they discovered N and E, Costa and McCrae found a third factor, which they called openness to experience. Most of Costa and McCrae's early work remained focused on these three dimensions (see, for example, Costa & McCrae, 1976; Costa, Fozard McCrae, & Bosse, 1976). Although Lewis Goldberg had first used the term "Big Five" in 1981 to describe the consistent findings of factor analyses of personality traits, Costa and McCrae continued their work on the tlitee factors.

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