The Big Five Taxonomy or Theory

In Chapter 1, we defined a taxonomy as a classification of things accordhig to their natural relationships. We also suggested that taxonomies are an essential starting point for the advance of science, but that they are not theories. Whereas theories generate research, taxonomies merely supply a classification system.

Eysenck's three-factor approach is a good example of how a scientific theory can use a taxonomy to generate hundreds of hypotheses. In the following discussion of McCrae and Costa's Five-Factor Model (FFM), we will see that their work began as an attempt to identify basic personality traits as revealed by factor analysis. This work soon evolved into a taxonomy and the Five-Factor Model. After much additional work, this model became a theory, one that can both predict and explain behavior.

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