Domains and facets: hierarchical personality assessment using the revised NEO personality inventory

J Pers Assess. 1995 Feb;64(1):21-50. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa6401_2.


Personality traits are organized hierarchically, with narrow, specific traits combining to define broad, global factors. The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992c) assesses personality at both levels, with six specific facet scales in each of five broad domains. This article describes conceptual issues in specifying facets of a domain and reports evidence on the validity of NEO-PI-R facet scales. Facet analysis-the interpretation of a scale in terms of the specific facets with which it correlates-is illustrated using alternative measures of the five-factor model and occupational scales. Finally, the hierarchical interpretation of personality profiles is discussed. Interpretation on the domain level yields a rapid understanding of the individual interpretation of specific facet scales gives a more detailed assessment.