How should the internal structure of personality inventories be evaluated?

Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2010 Aug;14(3):332-46. doi: 10.1177/1088868310361240. Epub 2010 Apr 30.


Personality trait inventories often perform poorly when their structure is evaluated with confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The authors demonstrate poor CFA fit for several widely used personality measures with documented evidence of criterion-related validity but also show that some measures perform well from an exploratory factor analytic perspective. In light of these results, the authors suggest that the failure of these measures to fit CFA models is because of the inherent complexity of personality, issues related to its measurement, and issues related to the application and interpretation of CFA models. This leads to three recommendations for researchers interested in the structure and assessment of personality traits: (a) utilize and report on a range of factor analytic methods, (b) avoid global evaluations regarding the internal validity of multiscale personality measures based on model fit according to conventional CFA cutoffs, and (c) consider the substantive and practical implications of model modifications designed to improve fit.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Character
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproducibility of Results