Private self-consciousness and the five-factor model of personality: distinguishing rumination from reflection

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Feb;76(2):284-304. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.76.2.284.


A distinction between ruminative and reflective types of private self-attentiveness is introduced and evaluated with respect to L. R. Goldberg's (1982) list of 1,710 English trait adjectives (Study 1), the five-factor model of personality (FFM) and A. Fenigstein, M. F. Scheier, and A. Buss's (1975) Self-Consciousness Scales (Study 2), and previously reported correlates and effects of private self-consciousness (PrSC; Studies 3 and 4). Results suggest that the PrSC scale confounds two unrelated, motivationally distinct dispositions--rumination and reflection--and that this confounding may account for the "self-absorption paradox" implicit in PrSC research findings: Higher PrSC scores are associated with more accurate and extensive self-knowledge yet higher levels of psychological distress. The potential of the FFM to provide a comprehensive framework for conceptualizing self-attentive dispositions, and to order and integrate research findings within this domain, is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Consciousness*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motivation
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Concept*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Thinking*