Heritabilities of Common and Measure-Specific Components of the Big Five Personality Factors

John C. Loehlin, Robert R. McCrae, Paul T. Costa, Oliver P. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three different measures of the Big Five personality dimensions were developed from the battery of questionnaires used in the National Merit Twin Study: one from trait self-rating scales, one from personality inventory items, and one from an adjective check list. Behavior-genetic models were fit to what the three measures had in common, and to the variance distinctive to each. The results of the model fitting agreed with other recent studies in showing the Big Five dimensions to be substantially and about equally heritable, with little or no contribution of shared family environment. Heritabilities for males and females did not differ significantly. For Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, some effect of shared environment was found for measure-specific variance on the personality inventory, and for Extraversion and Neuroticism, models involving nonadditive genetic variance or twin contrast effects provided slightly better fits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-453
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Key Words: Big Five; heredity; environment; twins; model fitting; sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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