Higher-order factors of the Big Five predict conformity: Are there neuroses of health?

Colin G. DeYoung, Jordan B. Peterson, Daniel M. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

447 Scopus citations


In a university sample (n = 245) and a community sample (n = 222), we replicate the higher-order factor solution for the Five Factor Model (Big Five) reported by Digman (Digman, J. M. (1997). Higher-order factors of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1246-1256). We present a biologically predicated model of these two personality factors, relating them to serotonergic and dopaminergic function, and we label them Stability (Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) and Plasticity (Extraversion and Openness). Based on this model, we hypothesize that Stability will positively predict conformity (as indicated by socially desirable responding) and that Plasticity will negatively predict conformity. A structural equation model indicates that conformity is indeed positively related to Stability (university sample: β = 0.98; community sample: β = 0.69; P < 0.01 for both) and negatively related to Plasticity (university sample: β = -0.48, P < 0.07; community sample: β = -0.42, P < 0.05). These findings suggest that there are pros and cons of conformity, such that the most thorough conformists will tend to be stable but also rigid, less able to adjust to novelty or change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-552
Number of pages20
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was made possible by support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We thank Alice Lee, Sara Goldman, Jana Holvay, Christy Johnson, Crystal Layne, Lisa Lee, Mariko Lui, Irena Milosevic, Craig Nathanson, Chayim Newman, William Rupp, and Suzanne Toole for their help in the execution of these studies. We are grateful to Romin Tafarodi for his statistical advice and to Phil Zelazo for his comments on an earlier version of this article.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Big Five
  • Conformity
  • Higher-order factors
  • Personality
  • Social desirability


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