Cybernetic Big Five Theory

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Cybernetics, the study of goal-directed, adaptive systems, is the best framework for an integrative theory of personality. Cybernetic Big Five Theory attempts to provide a comprehensive, synthetic, and mechanistic explanatory model. Constructs that describe psychological individual differences are divided into personality traits, reflecting variation in the parameters of evolved cybernetic mechanisms, and characteristic adaptations, representing goals, interpretations, and strategies defined in relation to an individual's particular life circumstances. The theory identifies mechanisms in which variation is responsible for traits in the top three levels of a hierarchical trait taxonomy based on the Big Five and describes the causal dynamics between traits and characteristic adaptations. Lastly, the theory links function and dysfunction in traits and characteristic adaptations to psychopathology and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-58
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Big Five
  • Characteristic adaptations
  • Cybernetics
  • Personality traits
  • Plasticity
  • Stability


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