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Revisiting Personality Theories: Eysenck vs. Big Five


Comparing and contrasting Eysenck’s and Costa and McCrae’s personality trait theories, the essay compares and contrasts these personality traits, helping individuals understand the difference in psychological characteristics.

Thesis statement: the essay aims to compare and contrast the Trait theories of personality, thus aiding in understanding and describing the individual differences in psychological traits and dimensions that are comparatively stable over time and across different circumstances. Costa and McCrae’s Five-Factor Model (Big Five personality traits) suggests that personality can be defined in five broad dimensions: neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. Personality Trait theories are crucial in understanding individual differences in psychological and behavioral functioning and thus have practical implications in numerous fields.

Personality is the characteristic and distinctive patterns of behavior, emotions, and thoughts that constitute a person’s private interaction with their social and physical setting (Rhodes and Smith, 2006). Similarly, personality study assumes that character is comparatively steady over a period, indicating steadiness in societal contacts; there is no sole aspect (for instance, ethos), tactic (for example, psychoanalytical tactic), or concept (for instance, Social Constructionism) that is foremost. Heredity is among the aspects determining biological creation; therefore, the physical response shapes an individual’s character. However, trait and type theory influence personality analysis of a personal difference technique. The paper compares Eysenck’s type personality theory (Eysenck, 1967) and Costa and McCrae’s trait theory (Costa and McCrae, 1992).


Dispositional or trait concept is a technique used to examine human disposition. Trait academics are mainly anxious with an individual trait dimension, a habitual pattern of emotions, thoughts, and behavior pattern. Therefore, it is universal that personality traits influence behavior, are prone to individual differences, and are steady over time. Personalities are realized as prevailing on a band range, with every person ranked anywhere lengthwise on a spectrum. Extraversion, for instance, discusses how other people’s company and interaction may stimulate a person; a person can rate low or high on the extraversion scale, with people rating highly naturally being extremely sociable people seeking inspiration from others. Many personality philosophers approve that character forms a hierarchy with a central or super personality at the top and narrow or subordinate personalities establishing the super traits. These traits are prejudiced by behavior; the most prevalent trait concepts are the “Big Five” model of personality and Eysenck’s Personality, a 3-factor model (Giant Three). These models are elucidated below, appraising their differences and similarities.

Eysenck (1967) established a 3-factor personality model grounded on factor analysis. These personality scopes comprise; psychoticism, neuroticism, and extraversion. Extraversion refers to an individual’s energy type, even if the individual seeks inspiration from being around others. People displaying high extraversion scores are expected to be vastly outgoing and sociable. Equally, people with low-slung extraversion scores feel the necessity to be lonely, wanting some time to relax and process. Neuroticism discusses the person’s emotional stability; individuals with high neuroticism are individuals with poor impulse control, unpredictable, and emotionally unstable. Lastly, psychoticism is denoted as personality trait patterns demonstrating high interpersonal hostility and aggression.

The main Eysenck’s three-factor model strength is; it offers a comprehensive concept of personality causes and tries to justify the discrete variances perceived in behavior. Research inspecting neuroticism in dizygotic and monozygotic twins proposed that neuroticism is genetically strong-minded (Eysenck, 1967). More study by Eysenck initiated that discrete alterations in neuroticism can result from changes in the limbic structure accountable for regulating and controlling excitements. Discrete alterations in extraversion stages have been connected to cortical arousal erraticism, with introverts showing more advanced activity stages than extroverts (Eysenck, 1967). Thus, explaining why extroverts pursue outside inspiration more frequently than introverts, there is less indication for the psychoticism personality; nevertheless, this personality is criticized in the context. It is contended that the personality is heterogeneous and, therefore, cannot be considered a sole personality, and conscientiousness and amicability, which correlates with low psychoticism levels, are relevant factors to a personality model.

The five-factor model (Big Five) is a character matrix comprising factors and variables (Costa and McCrae, 1992). Variable quantities are explicit character traits, with thirty distinct characters systematized into 5-domains; neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. Neuroticism and Extraversion are similar, as in the case of Eysenck’s 3-factor model, and there exists a slight disagreement around these traits, with more studies confirming their personality impact over time and stability. Openness refers to a person’s sincerity to experience and readiness to deliberate new concepts. Conscientiousness is a person’s determination to prosper, associated with control, persistence, planning, and self-discipline. Agreeableness partially substitutes Eysenck’s “psychoticism,” with individuals scoring low on agreeableness levels scoring high on psychoticism levels. Agreeableness is defined as a person’s capability to uphold relationships and the interpersonal friendship quality they embrace. Costa and McCrae (1992) initiated that the 3-traits are precise behavior predictors. Openness is a significant occupational interest predictor; conscientiousness is undertaken to relate with academic achievement and professional performance, while conscientiousness and agreeableness showed implied life gratification. Therefore, it is claimed that the 3-traits are comprehensive intermediate-order personalities illustrated by numerous substantial characters and are good character measurements, having countless personalities lost from the context if the characters are ignored (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Thus, the “Big Five” context can better apprehend and seize personality disparity when equated to the “Giant Three” Eysenck’s trait theory.

Eysenck (1967) disagrees with the necessity for a five-factor context of disposition and claims that the relationships between conscientiousness in the 5-aspect context and amicability and psychoticism in the 3-aspect context are high. Thus, C and A’s personalities must be considered secondary personalities forming psychoticism. A high correlation between openness and extraversion traits (0.43) indicates that openness must be perceived as the central extraversion aspect of the context. Eysenck contends there needs to be more indication on psychometric planes to permit using supplementary characters of O, C, and A as the five-aspect context neglects high associations between aspects debatably of advanced order (Eysenck, 1967). According to Eysenck (1992), Powell and Royce conducted meta-analysis studies with three significant scopes comparable to (N, E, and P). Likewise, Waller and Tellagan also back up the 3-main factors (N, E, and P); Costa and McCrae (1992) are criticized for not acknowledging Cattell’s work also recognizes three significant factors, of which two are N and E, which both the “Big Five” and “Giant Three” include, though Cattell’s 3rd factor was comparable to P; however, the piece was claimed not to comprise pertinent matters to back up P.

The main “Big Five” criticism seems considerably mis-interpretative and subjective around factors identification, while Eysenck’s three-aspect context comprises a tremendous theoretic framework that supports the context (Eysenck, 1992). The writer claims that a fine-braced neuroticism model is associated with conditioning principles, learning theory, and genetic components, which backs up the trait’s effects on behavior (Eysenck, 1992). There needs to be more support for openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Costa and McCrae claim the necessity for character scopes related to genetic mechanisms as they contend that the context elucidates how character is systematized. Eysenck (1992) claims that more than an aspect study is needed to back up a context to enlighten behavior and alleges that a dimension lacking a supportive theoretic elucidation is unsighted. The current study initiated that all 5-traits relate to brain structure (Taki et al. 2013).


In summary, both models provide a viable personality measure though it is contended that the “Big Five” can better capture the differences between individuals and their personality variability. The “Giant Three” can better elucidate how ecological impacts impact behavior and enticements more hypothetical and theoretical summary related to psychology and biology. Whereas the three alternative traits in Big Five are regularly disputed, Eysenck’s psychoticism trait is frequently criticized, and there is uncertainty on what they should include, around what the attributes should be termed, and have a subjective meaning, thus open to delusion and misconception. The widespread criticism of the contexts is that the aspects are comprehensive; hence, predicting behavior based on the scores or concluding the personality measures is hectic. The study is still under development on personality measurement with new-fangled models like HEXACO trying to challenge Big Five (Anglim & O’Connor, 2019). However, the Big Five is still the most prevalent personality measure and is still used extensively.

References (MMU Harvard!)

Anglim, J. and O’Connor, P., 2019. Measurement and research using the Big Five, HEXACO, and narrow traits: A primer for researchers and practitioners. Australian Journal of Psychology71(1), pp.16-25.

Costa Jr, P.T. and McCrae, R.R., 1992. The five-factor model of personality and its relevance to personality disorders. Journal of personality disorders6(4), pp.343-359.

Eysenck, H.J., 1967. Personality and extra-sensory perception. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

Eysenck, H.J., 1992. Four ways five factors are not essential. Personality and individual differences13(6), pp.667-673.

Rhodes, R.E. and Smith, N.E.I., 2006. Personality correlates of physical activity: a review and meta-analysis. British Journal of sports medicine40(12), pp.958-965.

Taki, Y., Thyreau, B., Kinomura, S., Sato, K., Goto, R., Wu, K., Kawashima, R. and Fukuda, H., 2013. A longitudinal study of the relationship between personality traits and the annual rate of volume changes in regional gray matter in healthy adults. Human brain mapping34(12), pp.3347-3353.


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