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Cattell and the Big Five

Common trait

can be measured by all people through testing

Nature vs. nurture

Cattell argued that nature rather than nurture played a key role in determining a person's characteristics; however, he did recognize the role of the environment (2/3rds environment; 1/3rd heredity)

Fluid intelligence

general problem-solving ability that is largely innate.

Crystallized intelligence

type of intelligence that comes from formal education or from general experience; most intelligence tests attempt to measure it.


refers either to a group of interrelated overt behaviors (surface trait) or the deeper determinant of such interrelated behavior (source traits). The main usefulness of surface traits is that they provide information about source traits.

Ability trait

trait that determines how effectively a person works toward a desired goal (i.e. Intelligence).

Constitutional trait

genetically determined.

Dynamic trait

motivational trait that sets a person in motion toward a goal (ergs v. metaergs)


provides energy source for all behavior (i.e. hunger & thirst)


secondary or learned drives

Environmental-mold trait

determined by experience rather than by heredity.

Temperament trait

constitutional source trait that determines a person's emotionality and style of behaving.

The Big Five factors of personality

describes personality without determining underlying causes (five basic factors of personality/ OCEAN)


sixteen-personality factor questionnaire including 16 multiple-choice scales measuring one underlying source trait of normal personality (Cattell).


information about a person's everyday life. The L stands for life record.


information obtained about a person from performance on an objective test. The "t" stands for test.


information provided when people fill out a questionnaire on which they rate themselves on various characteristics. The "q" stands for questionnaire.

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