The Lexical Big Seven

The Lexical Big Seven: An Inclusive Psycholexical Investigation
Auke Tellegen
Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota

According to the “lexical hypothesis”, the well-known rationale for the Big Five taxonomy of
major personality dimensions, the most important personality traits are more likely to be
lexically encoded as one-word descriptors. Empirical tests of this conjecture when applied to the US English-language lexicon necessitated reduction of the many thousands of person descriptors to much smaller but still representative descriptor subsets. The Big Five research program achieved these reductions through a process of negative selections, or exclusions. Terms judged unfit for scientifically useful descriptions — for example, those considered overly evaluative — were eliminated. Unlike this exclusionary approach, the present lexical investigation was designed to be inclusive. To ensure inclusiveness but limit the research questionnaire to 400 items, the selections were spaced throughout the dictionary. Furthermore, as an alternative to the principal-component “scree test”, an exploratory simple-structure method, the Smallest
Factor Profile (SFP) procedure, was used to conduct a principal-factor “drop test” of the lexical hypothesis formulated explicitly as predicting a taxonomy, that is, a set of distinctly major dimensions. The results indeed indicate a taxonomy of seven and only seven major simple-structure rotated primary dimensions of personal characteristics named Positive Valence, Negative Valence, Positive Emotionality, Negative Emotionality, Disagreement Proneness, Unconventionality, and Dependability, or the Big Seven. Additional analyses, again including drop tests when applicable, show that the Big Seven are structurally robust, are recoverable from separate analyses of familiar and non-familiar descriptors, are not interpretable as artifacts, and in a new data set demonstrate the replicability of the Big Seven using previously identified markers.

To read the paper, click here. 

Citation: Tellegen, A. (2018). The Lexical Big Seven: An Inclusive Psycholexical Investigation.