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Michelle N. Shiota

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Conscientiousness is one of the “Big Five” dimensions of human personality uncovered by factor analyses of trait ratings in several languages and cultures. Benet-Martinez and John (1998) have aptly defined Conscientiousness as “socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task- and goal-directed behavior” (p. 730). Like the other Big Five constructs, Conscientiousness is a higher-order statistical factor reflecting a pattern of covariance among more specific traits, in this case traits involving a person's efficacy, responsibility, and reliability. Conscientiousness is written with a capital C to emphasize its status as a statistical factor, and researchers will typically refer to Conscientiousness as a “factor” of human personality, rather than a “trait.” Conscientiousness appears to be a lifelong disposition, with individuals' level of Conscientiousness relative to others remaining consistent throughout much of the lifespan. However, on average people do become more Conscientious as they get older, peaking around middle age. Like the other Big Five traits, Conscientiousness is typically measured using questionnaires, in which the respondent states his or her level of agreement with items describing the self or another target person. Because the Big Five constructs were initially derived from studies examining correlations among trait adjectives rated in this way, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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