Development of an Integrated Adaptive and Maladaptive Personality Model for Measuring the Big Five

Desson, S. 2017. Development of an Integrated Adaptive and Maladaptive Personality Model for Measuring the Big Five. PhD thesis University of Westminster Psychology

TitleDevelopment of an Integrated Adaptive and Maladaptive Personality Model for Measuring the Big Five
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsDesson, S.

The structure of the Big Five model of personality was examined when its dimensions were measured independently at both poles, based on new items designed to reduce the social desirability bias often found between the polarities. Inductive, deductive and criterion-centric methods were employed and an instrument created that measures Big Five traits both adaptively and maladaptively.

Based on a comprehensive literature review of the potency of different personality scales in predicting positive and negative performance at work, 410 items were created to measure the desired adaptive and maladaptive scales and a sample of English speaking professionals (N = 1,686 females, mean age = 44.0, SD = 12.0; N = 820 males, mean age = 46.5, SD = 13.0) assessed themselves against them on a Likert scale. Eighteen scales were created based on fifty-seven items and exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was employed to understand the impact of the new structure on the Big Five. The convergent and divergent validity were tested using hypotheses regarding the proposed correlations with industry benchmark instruments. A re-validation study (N = 438), test re-test study (N = 117), consensual validity study (N = 105) and social desirability study (N = 26, N = 28, N = 40) were also undertaken. Criterion validity was examined using behavioural competency models (N = 254, N = 73), with 360 observer feedback gathered and a priori hypotheses tested. The results revealed that evaluative bias can be reduced with the proposed approach, and the Big Five factor structure persists, whilst simultaneously enabling test users to explore their adaptive and maladaptive traits at both ends of the polarities. It is argued that conceptualising maladaptive traits as the more extreme ends of the Big Five (“too much of a good thing”) is helpful from a user validity perspective and avoids the risk of pathologizing people in organisational settings.

Finally, the instrument’s eighteen scales have been located in the personality periodic table (Woods and Anderson, 2016) and the concept of a blended Conscientiousness and Neuroticism scale has been supported by the current research and provides a new approach. The implications for research and practice are discussed.


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