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Counseling Psychology: Critique of the Big Five

How would behaviorists and psychoanalytic types critique the Big Five? (at least 300-400 words.)

References please.

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Let's take a closer look. I also included an overview of the Big Five at the end of the response that I thought you might find helpful.


1. How would behaviorists and psychoanalytic types critic the Big Five?

The Big Five is a trait theory which is often classified under behaviorism-genetics. These psychologists take a biological view of personality based on research temperaments in children and heritability in adult twins, hoping is to find the genes underlying temperament. According to these theorists, individual differences in temperaments or manner of reacting to the environment emerge early in life and are an influence in later personality development. For example, "behavioral-genetic data from twin and adoption studies show that the heritability of many adult personality traits is between .40 to .60, with the remaining variability accounted for by a person's unique environment and experiences" (

Traditional Behaviorists explain personality in terms of reactions to external stimuli, and ignore the genetics of behavior like proposed in the Big Five. Behaviorism was initiated by B. F. Skinner. According to these theories, people's behavior is formed by processes such as operant conditioning. They would argue that there are no genes or temperaments underlying personality development, as a person's personality is solely shaped though interacting with the environment (

On the other hand, Psychoanalytic theorists base their ideas on Sigmund Freud's work and explain human behavior in terms of interaction between the various components of personality. The Big Five would be criticized because they do not believe there are personality traits that make up board temperament types. Instead, they believe Freud's ideas of the conversion of psychic energy into behavior. According to these theorists, the human personality down to three significant components: the ego, superego, and id, and personality is shaped by the interactions of these three components (, they would argue against the Big Five broad traits as genetic predetermined traits that impact adult personality. Rather, the personality is almost totally formed in childhood through the interaction of the structures, id, ego and superego, and much of primitive id of human personality is stored in the unconscious, which makes it necessary for defense mechanisms to protect the ego from the truth (e.g. id is mostly sexual in nature). They might argue that these five broad traits are some of the possible traits available to all people that could develop through the interaction of the id, ego and superego, or when a child might get fixated in certain stages. However, they are not genetic temperaments, according to these theorists.



The Big Five Factors
In 1981, at a symposium in Honolulu, four prominent researchers (Lewis Goldberg, Naomi Takamoto-Chock, Andrew Comrey, and John M. Digman) reviewed the available personality tests of the day, and decided that most of the tests which held any promise seemed to measure a subset of five common factors, just as Norman had discovered in 1963.
Following the discovery of the convergence of the Lexical Hypothesis with the findings of theoretical research, a model was developed which states that personality can be described in terms of five aggregate-level trait descriptors.
Although many personality researchers have built their own models, when they talk to each other they usually ...

Solution Summary

Discuses how would behaviorists and psychoanalytic types critique the Big Five theory of personality. Supplemented with an artcile explaining in the full the Big Five theory of personality.