Personality Characteristics Below Facets: A Replication and Meta-Analysis of Cross-Rater Agreement, Rank-Order Stability, Heritability, and Utility of Personality Nuances

René Mõttus, Jonah Sinick, Antonio Terracciano, Martina Hrebícková, Christian Kandler, Jyukou Andou, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Lucía Colodro-Conde, Kerry L. Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Mõttus and colleagues (2017) reported evidence that the unique variance in specific personality characteristics captured by single descriptive items often displayed trait-like properties of cross-rater agreement, rank-order stability, and heritability. They suggested that the personality hierarchy should be extended below facets to incorporate these specific characteristics, called personality nuances. The present study attempted to replicate these findings, employing data from 6,287 individuals from 6 countries (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, and United States). The same personality measure-240-item Revised NEO Personality Inventory-and statistical procedures were used. The present findings closely replicated the original results. When the original and current results were meta-analyzed, the unique variance of nearly all items (i.e., items' scores residualized for all broader personality traits) showed statistically significant cross-rater agreement (median = .12) and rank-order stability over an average of 12 years (median = .24), and the unique variance of the majority of items had a significant heritable component (median = .14). These 3 item properties were intercorrelated, suggesting that items systematically differed in the degree of reflecting valid unique variance. Also, associations of items' unique variance with age, gender, and body mass index (BMI) replicated across samples and tracked with the original findings. Moreover, associations between item residuals and BMI obtained from one group of people allowed for a significant incremental prediction of BMI in an independent sample. Overall, these findings reinforce the hypotheses that nuances constitute the building blocks of the personality trait hierarchy, their properties are robust and they can be useful.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018 Jul 26



  • Big Five
  • Five-Factor Model
  • Items
  • Personality nuances
  • Trait hierarchy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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