Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Personality Types Based on the Big Five Model. a Cluster Analysis over the Romanian Population

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Personality Types Based on the Big Five Model. a Cluster Analysis over the Romanian Population

Article excerpt


This paper reports two independent studies investigating personality types using cluster analysis based on the five-factor personality model. In the first study, we focused on identifying the most appropriate cluster number by checking the replicability of two to eight clusters across two random halves of a nationally representative Romanian sample. The second study established the external validity of the more replicable three-cluster and five-cluster solution by studying their relations to specific self-reported behaviors. The results indicate good validity for a five-cluster solution describing the following personality types: resilient, undercontrolled, strain, overcontrolled, and passive. The findings are discussed in relation to a suggested classification based on degrees of self-control and of adaptation / flexibility.

KEYWORDS: Five-factor personality model, Big Five, cluster analysis, personality type, resilient type, DECAS Personality Inventory


Personality psychology is currently dominated by a dimensional approach to personality description in which the scores for each personality trait are usually considered in isolation. This type of analysis reflects initial intuition because individuals have a tendency to evaluate others by focusing on only one dimension (e.g., George is friendly). Although there is often a correspondence between the score obtained for a given dimension and a particular behavioral descriptor (e.g., individuals with high scores on Agreeableness Scale are often perceived as being friendly), this is not always the case because other relevant factors are ignored. For example there is a much higher probability that an individual will be described by others as being friendly if he or she obtains high scores on both the Agreeableness and Extraversion scales. By contrast an individual with high agreeableness but low extraversion will tend to be perceived as docile or conformist.

Combinations of factors can therefore provide us with more information than we can obtain by interpreting a given scale in isolation. A personality type, from this perspective, is described in terms of unique combinations of traits. In practice, the best known are probably the 16 personality types described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Briggs Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, & Hammer, 1998), but this typology has been criticized in the academic world due to a series of shortcomings concerning its scientific validity (Hunsley, Lee, & Wood, 2004). Other familiar personality type descriptions are those proposed in the California Personality Inventory (CPI) - alpha, beta, gamma, and delta (Gough & Bradley, 1996, as cited in Pitariu, Iliescu, Tureanu, & Peleasa, 2006), those proposed by Eysenck (1967), based on an ancient temperament typology, and those proposed by Block and Block (1980) - brittle undercontrollers, brittle overcontrollers, resilient undercontrollers, and resilient overcontrollers.

Research on personality types belongs to the person-centered tradition in personality research and focuses on those types that are frequently observed in a population. Previous studies comparing the predictive power of trait vs. type approach reported mixed results (Huey & Weisz, 1997) or suggested similar predictive power both in terms of the multivariate percentage of explained variance and the number of significant longitudinal correlates (Asendorpf & Denissen, 2006), while a study conducted by Costa, Herbst, McCrae, Samuels, and Ozer (2002) favored the dimensional approach. Asendorpf and Denissen (2006) considered that the type approach did better when predicting longitudinal compared to concurrent outcomes due to the fact that a type is dependent on pattern of traits and not on the mean-level tendencies that might fluctuate across time as it is the case for traits.

In our opinion, the fact that the type approach was relatively on par with the variable approach is remarkable. …

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