Five Big, Big Five Issues: Rationale, Content, Structure, Status, and Crosscultural Assessment

Boele De Raad*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This article discusses the rationale, content, structure, status, and crosscultural assessment of the Big Five trait factors, focusing on topics of dispute and misunderstanding. Taxonomic restrictions of the original Big Five forerunner, the "Norman Five," are discussed, and criticisms regarding the lexical hypothesis are refuted. The main issue of the psycho-lexical approach, namely, coverage of the trait domain, is elaborated upon, and the logic of the circumplexical structuring of the trait variables is summarized. A distinction is made between the common status of the Big Five approach, with a description of the competing positions of the Big Five model and other personality models, and the particular status of the Big Five approach, including its role as a general communication medium of personality traits. Finally, a review of recent, psychometrically based comparisons among different taxonomies is provided, lending support to the Big Five model as the main working hypothesis, on the one hand, but also showing discrepancies between languages, particularly as regards Factor V.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-124
    Number of pages12
    JournalEuropean Psychologist
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Trait structure
    • taxonomy
    • Big Five
    • crosscultural comparisons

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