Generality or Specificity? Examining the Relation between Personality Traits and Mental Health Outcomes Using a Bivariate Bi-factor Latent Change Model

Wenting Mu, Jing Luo, Lauren Nickel, Brent W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most previous research has focused on the relationships between specific personality traits and specific facets of mental health. However, in reality most of the Big Five are associated at non-trivial levels with mental health. To account for this broad correlation, we proposed the ‘barometer hypothesis’, positing that behind both ratings of mental health and personality lies a barometer that indicates one's general feelings of positivity or negativity. To the extent that both the general factors of personality and mental health reflect this same barometer, we would expect them to be correlated. We tested alternative models using data from a large longitudinal panel study that includes two cohorts of participants who were assessed every two years, resulting in parallel 4-year longitudinal studies. Similar results were obtained across both studies. Supporting the ‘barometer hypothesis’, findings revealed that the optimal model included general latent factors for both personality traits and mental health. Compared to the broad raw pairwise correlations, the bi-factor latent change models revealed that the relation among levels and changes in the specific factors were substantially reduced when controlling for the general factors. Still, some relations remained relatively unaffected by the inclusion of the general factor. We discuss implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-483
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Keywords

  • bi-factor
  • change
  • generality
  • mental health
  • personality
  • specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Generality or Specificity? Examining the Relation between Personality Traits and Mental Health Outcomes Using a Bivariate Bi-factor Latent Change Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this