Personality Traits in terms of Social-Role Probabilities; an innovative theoretical essay on the possibility of overcoming the chaotic diversity in personality theories

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Personality Traits in Terms of Social-Role Probabilities
An innovative theoretical essay on the possibility of overcoming the chaotic diversity in personality theories

by Popko P. van der Molen

presented at the Third European Conference of Personality Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 23-26, 1986.

(Registered as Heymans Bulletin HB-86-815-EX, State University of Groningen (RUG), Jan. 1987)

[some figures still to be added]

Keywords :

  • abilities and skills
  • adaption vs. innovation
  • anchoring dimensions
  • dominance (styles)
  • energy level
  • genetic vs. environmental factors
  • personality traits
  • person- vs. thing-orientedness
  • reactivity
  • rotations (oblique + orthogonal)
  • self-will vs. compliance
  • stability vs. over-sensitivity
  • social roles subordinacy (styles of)

Author's note:

This study was supported by the ANO-foundation (Netherlands). Dissemination of the ideas as presented in this paper was supported by the Hendrik de Visser Fund. For useful comments and critique I am much indebted to Paul van Geert, Sarah Hampson and Guus van Heck.

Short Abstract

<level 1>   Social Psychology and Personality Psychology have developed into separate disciplines. Personality psychologists seldom ask questions about the way social roles are distributed and come into existence and social psychologists rarely explore the influence of temperamental differences and other basic personality traits on the way social roles develop.

Focussing on the interface between these two research traditions, we can find anchoring points for factor rotations which can bring order to the unmanageable multiformity of classification systems, categorizations and theoretical approaches in personality- and social psychology. To that end some personality dimensions are defined on the level of congenital predispositions as well as in terms of social role distribution. They are, in fact, biologically based personality traits, defined in terms of the probability of obtaining specific social roles (-scores).

The use of such doubly defined personality dimensions as reference points can produce considerable conceptual and theoretical advantages for both the social-role and the trait domain. It can help us to integrate both disciplines without leading to desultory complexities.


✰✰ <level 2>   Social Psychology and Personality Psychology have developed into separate disciplines. Therefore it is not very usual for personality psychologists to ask questions about the way social roles are distributed and come into existence, neither for social psychologists to explore the influence of temperamental differences and other basic personality traits on the way social roles develop.

This paper deals with some advantages to be derived from focussing on the interface between these two research traditions.

Research data on the causal factors of the distribution of social roles were reviewed. Some of those causal factors appeared to have their roots at the level of temperamental- and other biologically based personality traits. The principal social-role dimensions "Dominance versus Subordinance" and "Incrowd versus Outcast" were found to be interrelated with dimensions from personality-psychological research, e.g.: the Adaption/Innovation, the Satellizer/non-satellizer, the Conformity, and the Person- /Thing-orientedness dimensions.

It appeared that some personality dimensions can be defined on the level of congenital predispositions as well as in terms of social role distribution. They are, in fact, biologically based personality traits, defined in terms of the probability of obtaining specific social roles (cores) - no matter the fact that social role distributions are found to be primarily dependent on environmental factors (and on environment-trait interaction effects).

Using such doubly defined personality dimensions as reference points may be helpful in solving a number of problems.

1.) For the old debate in the research on personality dimensions about where to put the axes of reference in final (higher order) rotations, external criteria are generated.

2.) For the debate as to whether one should allow for obliqueness or insist on orthogonality, such doubly defined dimensions suggest in detail where orthogonality is advantageous and where obliqueness is obligatory for maximizing functional and conceptual clarity. Orthogonality may, for the sake of concision, be maintained within the realm of "biologically based predispositional traits" and within the realm of "social role differences", but between these realms proper, personality factors should be allowed to correlate, because the two realms are by definition functionally interrelated.

3.) Since such doubly defined personality dimensions demarcate the boundary between those sources of personality differences, they are also helpful in classifying established personality dimensions as to these categories.

4.) The demarcation and interrelation between these two disciplines being elucidated further, they can be integrated more easily without leading to desultory complexities.

Such an integration could produce considerable conceptual and theoretical advantages for both disciplines.

It is argued that a similar approach is possible at the interface between on the one hand temperamental traits like sensitivity, reactivity and basic energy level, and on the other hand the probability and direction of optimal learning processes, resulting in various personality characteristics at the level of skills and abilities. The latter category of personality differences in turn pertains to probabilities of acquiring desired social role positions like e.g. dominance.


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✰✰ <level 2>   Social Psychology and Personality Psychology have developed into separate disciplines. Personality psychologists seldom ask questions about the way social roles come into existence and are distributed and social psychologists rarely explore the influence of temperamental differences and other basic personality traits on the way social roles develop. However, since these disciplines proper are strongly interrelated, both dealing with individual differences, there is a considerable overlap in the dimensions, studied in each domain. As a result, there is, in the field of personality theories, an almost unmanageable multiformity of classification systems, categorizations, and theoretical approaches. Some of them supplement each other, or may be considered as partly overlapping and redundant. Others seem to compete, or even to be mutually exclusive.

For the present disquisition we need to distinguish aspects of social interactive behaviour as far as they are primarily dependent on time- and place-specific role distributions, from behavioural aspects with strong conge¬nital roots and from behavioural aspects which primarily depend on processes of learning and development. To that end we shall utilize a preliminary classification of personality dimensions in the following categories:

1. ) Social-role dimensions, refering to differences in the way people interact socially; personality dimensions stemming from social psychological research can mostly be considered as belonging to this category; differences between individuals with regard to these dimensions are often found to be strongly situation-dependent. Reviews of this category of personality research can for instance be found in Leary (1957),. Foa (1961), Wiggins (1979,1982) and Kiesler (1982,1983).

2. ) Traits of temperament, refering to the most stable differences between persons, often shown to have strong congenital roots. Personality-trait psychologists traditionally used to be interested in these aspects of personality in particular. This area of research is represented by a considerable number of "schools" and traditions. Other than in the realm of social interactive beha¬viour, there is little consensus here with regard to which axes of reference are to be considered most important. Moreover, most of the traditions in this realm cherish at least some personality dimensions which are evidently a mix of the presently applied three conceptual categories of personality differences. In the research traditions of Cattell, Eysenck, Strelau, Buss and Plomin, to mention a few, a major part of the personality dimensions under investigation is representative for the category "traits of temperament".

3.) Skills and abilities, sensitive to learning, training and education. Dimensions in this category emerge from research on learning and education as well as from research on personality differences in general. They are the most changeable and malleable category of personality differences.

These three categories primarily differ in stability over time and in the ease with which the personality characteristics in question can be influenced from the environment. In most research groups or university departments the research efforts are focussed exclusively on one of the major broad categories. That is to say, all dimensions under investigation are often either interpreted as traits of temperament, or as social-role aspects, or as skills and abilities, depending solely on the perspective from which the research group in question operates. When scrutinized more closely however, it is often rather difficult - especially in the case of orthogonal personality dimensions - to determine unambiguously for each dimension under investigation, whether it is indeed primarily to be considered a "trait of temperament", a "social role dimension", a "skill", merely a dimension of "judgment", unrelated to actual behaviour, or as a combination of these.

Interpretation of Personality Factors; Ambiguity and Confusion

✰✰✰ <level 3>   One of the reasons for the apparent ambiguity of the classificatory status of many personality factors can be found in the fact that the various main sources of personality differences are strongly inter(cor)related.

Suppose for instance that certain innate properties account for an important part of personality-variance (e.g., genetical factors influencing physical strength). Then these genetic factors for strength will also influence:

a) the individual's chances of taking up certain social roles,

b) the likelihood of profiting by learning versus suffering irrepairably from certain environmental influences,

c) the probability of evoking certain judgments from other people, etc.,etc.

When a strong resourceful individual is competing with weak individuals for a dominating position, chances of success are clearly unequal. And after a social role distribution has been established and consolidated, a dominant position will in itself determine part of the individual's behaviour and thus also the experiences and skills to be acquired later on. Apart from social role positions, strong and resourceful individuals will be more able to learn from harsh environmental influences, to avoid the suffering of irreparable damage, and thus to better their chances of becoming more skillful. This in turn influences the individual's behaviour and its chances for success. In this way correlations between genetical factors and other sources of personality-differences will prevail. And the same is mutatis mutandis likely to hold for other combinations of personality sources.

All this means that it will be essentially impossible to find purely genetical personality factors, purely developmental personality factors, purely social role factors, etc., which are all mutually orthogonal to one another. The various main sources of personality differences being basically inter- (cor)related, we may still - staying within one realm, say, within the realm of trait-differences or the realm of social-role differences - choose to work with orthogonal factors within that area. But even then - limiting ourselves to one of the main realms of personality and also limiting ourselves to orthogonal factors another problem arises. Having decided that a particular n-dimensional euclidian space is the most proper representation of the data under consideration, there is still the problem of determining which position of personality factors is most convenient. Guilford & Hoepfner (1969) remark:

"It should be agreed that the aim of those who apply factor analysis for the purpose of discovering scientific constructs in psychology should be to achieve psychologically significant factors, which can be replicated, which fit into systematic psychological theory, and which can be investigated meaningfully by other methods. Only in this way can there be general agreement upon factorially discovered constructs and thus the unambiguous communicability that science requires."

When dealing with a general and rather exhaustive trait space, generally agreed upon external criteria to determine where to put our labels of reference are generally not available. Therefore, internal criteria are used such as e.g., a varimax rotation of principal components. But, as Guilford (1975) states:

"It is probably commonly known that the most disturbing deficiency of factor analysis is its indeterminacy - the lack of any completely dependable criterion with regard to where to place the reference axes. And when mathematical specifications for simple structure are written in the form of analytical rotation models (e.g., varimax or promax), the model may not fit psychological reality."

Were generally agreed upon external criteria available, a criterium rotation might render factors (and labels) to span the resulting multi-dimensional personality space in a way, more convenient for experimentation and manipulation (Guilford et al., 1969; Elshout et al, 1975). (For a clear demonstration of these principles on relatively simple data, i.e. measures of books or coffee cups, refer to Overall (1964), Cattell & Dickman (1962) and Cattell & Sullivan (1962).)

Below we will attempt to deal with this general problem of searching for hard and generally acceptable external rotation criteria. But first let us rehearse the methodical problems encountered up to this point.

Oblique versus Orthogonal Axes of Reference

✰✰✰ <level 3>   In attempting to summarize huge and complex data on personality differences, it seems attractive, for reasons of sparsity and mathematical elegance, to work with orthogonal factor rotations of principal component solutions.

If we choose for orthogonality, we are still burdened with the problem of where to put the axes of reference. Moreover, paradoxically, mathematical independence appears not to guarantee independence in terms of (functional) interpretation. Orthogonal personality factors are in fact often interpreted as and labeled with concepts that can theoretically and experimentally be shown to be clearly functionally interconnected and correlated. This seems to imply that these conceptual factors have been "forced" into orthogonal positions by the rotation methods applied, and that their orthogonality is not warranted by psychological reality. This problem is especially relevant between personality factors stemming from different main sources of personality variance, for instance between genetically based trait factors and social-role dimensions, or between these two types of personality factors and factors of skills and abilities. In other words, having found an n-dimensional data-space describing the correlations in a rather exhaustive set of personality variables, and having found an efficient description of the n-dimensional space by an "orthogonal simple structure treatment" of its principal components (e.g., "varimax"- rotation), we may almost be sure that each of these resulting orthogonal factors contains elements of many classes of personality-sources at the same time, thereby rendering the model sub-optimal from an experimental and manipulative viewpoint.

Eysenck's system of higher-order personality factors may serve as an example. His Neuroticism and his Extraversion dimension both appear to be a blend of very different personality aspects. Extraversion for instance, is associated with the social-role aspect dominance as well as with the tempera¬mental attitude of person-orientedness (sociability) (Eysenck, 1953; Buss & Plomin, 1975). Extraversion, as a term in daily personality descriptive language, also appears to be correlated with levels of skill (Reeder et al., 1977). Furthermore, Eysenck's operationalization of Extraversion appears to be correlated with high activity levels (Feij, 1978; 1979,et al), while a high activity level may in itself be regarded as a basic trait which is important enough to be maintained as a separate dimension. The latter consideration has indeed been taken into account in the factorial personality models of many investigators. (See e.g., Heymans, 1932; Cattell, 1950; Thurstone, 1951; Guilford, 1959, 1975; Mehrabian, 1972,(ch.8); Strelau, 1974a and Buss & Plomin, 1975; For a review refer to e.g., Mischel, 1976 or Feij, 1978).

This confusing of various behavioural dimensions with individual differences in sheer basic activity level is characteristic for the realm. For one thing, a dominant social-role position may boost the level of overt activity, just as being trapped in an outcast- or scapegoat-like social position may considerably reduce it. Basic activity levels are therefore strongly mixed with secondary role-determined activity levels (Strelau, 1974a, p. 121). Another difficulty with the activity aspect in personality research stems from the above mentioned habit of focussing on varimax solutions when applying factor analysis. The varimax criterium pushes the axes of reference towards the most dense clusters of behavioural labels, whereas behavioural labels tend to be attached to certain activities rather than to certain "flavours" of activities. Therefore varimax factors tend to represent certain types of styles and of activities, each mixed with a high activity and energy level, rather than one pure activity factor plus factors of activity flavours. As a consequence, a separate dimension "general activity level" often appears to be missing in factor analytic studies on personality in which no further a-priori rotation criteria are applied than varimax- or similar statistical criteria.

This is the more disturbing, because energy is as it were the all-important exchange currency in nature. Life is a continuous struggle for materials and energy which are needed for maintenance, growth and propagation. Within every species there is a continuous selection going on, the "fittest" individuals propagating more successfully than the "unfit". One of the bottlenecks in the race for fitness is the ability to generate enough energy, even with a minimum of resources. Lack of energy produces losers and the process of losing in its turn causes more lack of energy. Therefore we must assume that a factorial model of personality is incomplete without a dimension which purely describes differences in the level of energy and/or activity.

Questionnaires versus Dictionaries

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Another critique on approaches as discussed above, refers to the use of questionnaires and the way they are developed and statistically "refined". Questionnaire batteries tend to suffer from the "Baron von Munchhausen syndrome". The more they are used and refined, the more the test items are made to fit together statistically, the more "one-pointed" is their measuring capacity, and the more doubt there can be raised with regard to their being representative for the whole area of personality differences in general. This has led many investigators to the "lexicographic" approach in which virtually the complete realm of personality descriptive terms is included in empirical research for the dimensions underlying their utilization in daily life (See e.g., Baumgarten, 1933; Allport & Odbert, 1936; Norman, 1963; Brokken, 1978; John et al., 1984, 1986; Hampson et al., 1986).

Norman's "Big Five" are a well known result of such an approach (they are commonly labeled "Surgency or Extra version", "Agreeableness", "Conscientiuousness or Dependability", "Emotional Stability" and "Culture"). These five dimensions represent an orthogonal rotation of the first five principal components of the correlations in the daily use of all personality descriptive adjectives (Norman, 1963). These factors have also in part been replicated in similar research outside of the English speaking world (Brokken, 1978, on dutch personality descriptive adjectives). The "big five" can, to a greater degree than eclectically chosen questionnaire batteries, be considered representative for the whole realm of personality differences, at least as sedimented in daily language. But here the disadvantages of orthogonality also apply. The adjectives loading high on each factor are at best blends of conceptually very diverse personality aspects. Brokken (1978, pp.51 -52) comments:

"It should be noted that the labels for the factors are only very general ones, capturing the tendency of meaning of each factor at most. Frequently, rather unexpected adjectives appear which suggests that other, aesthetically more appealing positions of the factors may be found ....... As three of the five Norman factors are presented in the factors in their current position [orthogonal varimax rotation of principal components] while another factor (Conscientiousness) is represented by the factors Dominance and Orderliness, it was decided to postpone new rotations to future research."

We shall return to the interpretational vagueness of these Norman-factors below, and discuss ways to avoid their ambiguity.

Again, all these problems and arguments point toward the replacement of orthogonal factors from a simple structure procedure by (often oblique) canonical factors, each relating to some major (set of) personality source(s) which can be experimentally manipulated and verified. The problem with this single-line recipe however, is that not enough definite, well established, external criteria can be found which render clear criterium rotations and canonical factors, and which are at the same time sufficiently acceptable as reference points for most investigators in the field of personality research. After all, having relinquished the demand for orthogonality, the above men¬tioned problem of determining enough rotation criteria has increased to power n! Therefore we would need such enormous amounts of generally agreed-upon and experimentally verifiably rotation criteria as to be virtually impossible.

Cattell's 16 PF set (Cattell et al., 1957,1970), while ultimately based also on a rather exhaustive set of trait names, is exemplary in this respect. Orthogonality was relinquished in favour of interpretational and conceptual clarity, aiming at a reduction of ambiguity of the factors itself. The wide spread tendency to stick to a limited number of orthogonal personality dimensions is criticized by Cattell as "indulging in a simple man's paradise of over-simplification". However, relinquishing orthogonality increases the degrees of freedom dramatically and puts a heavy burden on the investigator in terms of arguments about which particular axes of reference to choose from the multitude of possibilities. In his case too, the international scientific community as a whole has in no way been convinced that the particular anchoring points in the space of personality data, as eclectically chosen by Cattell and coworkers, and resulting in their 16 PF system, are most desirable in terms of interpretative, manipulative, and experimental advantages. At present, the status of the 16 PF system is therefore "just one arbitrary personality system amongst many others" (Buss & Poley, 1976).

Because of all these ambiguities, many authors have pointed out that an approach in which external rotation criteria are obtained from experimental data seems more attractive (Armstrong, 1976; Gorsuch, 1974; Guilford & Hoepfner, 1969). Only then would we be able to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of on the one hand the ambiguity of blended orthogonal higher-order factors and on the other the indeterminacy of too many degrees of freedom of oblique factors. To be of maximum use such experimental data should result from genetic experiments, from experiments with social roles, etc., etc., while at the same time being related to the set of personality(-descriptive) variables under consideration. In addition, such experiments should of course deal with sufficiently important and representative aspects of personality.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   If we could find temperamental trait factors which do have implications for what happens at the social role level, i.e. which determine biases in the distribution of social roles, then such temperamental personality factors would not only tell us something about the temperamental personality aspects, but would also, and at the same time, tell us something about the relative likeli¬hood of individuals to drift into certain social role positions. Since individual differences in social role behaviour are very much influenced by external variables, biologically based temperamental aspects can never of course fully determine what will manifest at the level of social interactive behaviour. However, the distribution of social roles is very much a complex stochastic process, depending on accidental, changing circumstances and on myriads of minor moments of choice. And it is in these moments of choice that tempera¬mental biases exert their systematic influence.

If we could find such temperamental trait factors which determine biases in social interactive behaviour, then they would represent an interface between the realm of social interactive (role-)behaviours and the realm of tempera¬mental traits. They would therefore specify functional and causal relations between specific aspects of temperament and certain specific aspects of social role differences, thus specifying oblique relations between dimensions from these two realms of personality differences. This would help us to avoid the serious interpretational confusion which is to be expected with factors that are orthogonal to one another and that are stemming from different source areas of personality variance. We would know precisely where to allow for obliqueness without having to give up the sparsity of orthogonal factors elsewhere. Using such personality factors as anchoring points for rotations would therefore reduce the degrees of freedom, while at the same time allowing for correlations and functional relations between specific personality factors. This strategy can be summed up in the following way:

a) Allow in principle for obliqueness if necessary, but only between personality factors from different main sources of personality variance, and particularly where experimental evidence with respect to their functional relations is available;

b) For the sake of sparsity insist on orthogonality between factors within each separate domain of personality differences (congenital traits of temperament; skills and abilities; social interactive and role behaviour); and

c) Choose the anchoring points for rotations not within the various realms of personality differences, but between them, at their interfaces.

Differences with Previous Attempts at Integration

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Before continuing our search along these lines, it seems proper to point out how and why this approach differs from some other, previous, attempts to integrate the overwhelming multitude of factorial personality models and theories.

In the realm of social-role behaviour or, more generally, in the realm of interpersonal behaviour characteristics, there is a long tradition of attempts to integrate the various empirical and experimental findings (Leary, 1957; Foa, 1961,1965; Lorr & McNair, 1965; Smith-Benjamin, 1974,1979,1982; Wiggins, 1979,1982; Kiesler, 1983). One of the most interesting results of this tradition is the so called "circumplex structure". This is a two-dimensional summary model of social interactive behaviour in which dominance (or ascendancy) and love/hate (or mutual acceptedness) are generally found to be the principal axes.

The present study has a broader perspective in that it tries to create an integrated picture of these dimensions of interpersonal behavioural styles together with their relation to basic temperamental traits, processes of learning and concomitant ability-dimensions. The results of the above mentioned research tradition can however, as shall be shown below, very well be incorporated in our approach.

The emphasis in our approach on the issue of orthogonal versus oblique factors and the essential impossibility of finding satisfactory interpretations for orthogonal final factors resulting from mathematical rotation criteria such as varimax etc., is similar to the approach of Guilford (e.g., 1959, 1975, 1969 et al.). Guilford tries to overcome the oversimplified way in which factorana-lysis is ordinarily applied, by discriminating between different levels of personality factors which are hierarchically organized (like in Pawlik's (1968) integrative approach), and by developing target-criteria for procrustes rotations through which meaning and unambiguity of the final factors is maximized.

This study is different in that we first tried to explain why orthogonality of factors thwarts any functional and conceptual clarity automatically, and second, try to indicate precisely which factors should a-priori be allowed to correlate and also because of which causal relations, and which sets of factors had better be kept orthogonal.

Apart from these traditions of integrative research, there have frequently been efforts to escape from these dilemmas by introducing a completely novel classification system for personality factors. In general, the idea is to elucidate the functional relations between the various personality dimensions, having determined the - up to that moment "hidden" - qualities of each personality dimension in terms of the novel classification system. Royce (1983; see also Royce & Powell, 1983 and Powell & Royce, 1982) for instance, uses a categorization in terms of functional units (sensory-, motor-, cognitive-, affective-, value- and style-) in order to re-assess and further specify the status of established first-, second- and third-order factors of personality. The result is a model in which most personality aspects are redefined and reformulated in terms of their novel concepts, producing considerable conceptual complications in which one easily loses track of the original problems.

Our approach, in contrast, has no need of novel concepts. Instead, it first analyses why conceptual and functional clarity of factors in integrative personality models is in general so low. This is ascribed primarily to failing to take into account the effects of conditional relations between the different major classical domains of personality, congenital basic traits, abilities and skill dimensions, and the social-interactive domain. The solution is not sought in the abolishment of established categories, but in specifying how we should handle them creatively without going astray.

Note: Another critique on Royce and Powell's approach is the way they interpret the motivational and affective components involved. Their theoretical model leans heavily on concepts of homeostatic regulation (Revelle,1983). At various places their interpretations are at variance with recent developments in the theory of motivation and affect (Apter, 1976,1982; Apter et al.,1985; v.d. Molen, 1985,1986a).


✰✰✰ <level 3>   In summarizing studies and reviews of social psychological research two more or less orthogonal dimensions generally emerge as the most important points of reference (Wiggins, 1979,1982; Kiesler, 1982,1983). One of these may be labeled "Ascendancy" or "Dominant versus Submissive" and the other dimension "Acceptance versus Rejection", "Love versus Hate" or "Positive Affiliation versus Hostility" (dimensions [9] and [10] in fig.l). Specifically, the following interpretations emerge in factoranalytic studies: "Dominance versus Submission" and "Love/Positive versus Hate/Negative/Hostility" (Leary, 1957; Foa, 1961; Lorr & McNair, 1965; Hare, 1972); "Assertiveness" and "Sociableness" (Borgatta, 1963); "Authority" and "Solidarity" (Gouman, Hofstee & de Raad, 1973); "Authority/Control" and "Affection/Intimacy" (Sampson, 1971); "Aggressive Dominance" and "Affiliation/Sociability" (Golding & Knudson, 1975). And these factoranalytic dimensions of social behaviour may be found on the verbal level as well as on the non-verbal level of behaviour: "Positiveness" (affiliative behaviour) and "Dominance vs. Submission" (relaxation) are two of the most conspicuous dimensions which Mehrabian (1972) found in his R-type factor-analytic studies on non-verbal social behaviour in man. (Refer to van der Molen (1979) for a comparison of the use of R-, Q- and other types of factoranalysis in observational behaviour studies.)

Peabody (1970) points at a very basic distinction between the two axes spanning this two-dimensional domain. One of them represents "asymmetrical" interactions, whereas the other describes "symmetrical" interactions. Relations involving "love/hate" or "affiliation" (dimension [10]) tend to be symmetrical - i.e., involving similar characteristics for the two parties - and relations involving "power" (dimension [9]) tend to be asymmetrical - i.e., involving dissimilar characteristics for the two parties - (see also Wiggins, 1982 and Kiesler, 1983 for recent reviews of research on this aspect).

Note: In the trans-specific behavioural literature the symbols α, β and ω are generally used for: dominant role (α), compliant and tolerated subordinate role (β), and non-compliant, non-tolerated type of subordinate, leading to an outcast role (ω)).

Styles of Dominance

✰✰✰ <level 3>   In order to gain more insight into the possible relationship between these dimensions of social role behaviour and congenital traits of temperament, we have to take a closer look at how these two social-role dimensions work out (see fig.l). Let us first therefore focus on how the "Affiliation" ("Sociableness") dimension [10] has to be interpreted at the High-Ascendancy/Dominance side of the "Dominant versus Submissive" axis [9].

Figure 1. Two dimensions of social interactive behaviour. In the trans-specific behavioural literature, the symbols α, β and ω are generally used for: dominant role (α), compliant and tolerated subordinate role (β), and non-compliant, non-tolerated type of subordinate, leading to an outcast position (ω). The numbers of the dimensions are the same as in the other figures. They were taken from v.d.Molen & de Graaf (1979), see table 1.

Dominating individuals may behave in an easy-going way towards their companions or they may not. On the one hand a dominating person may exert a lot of aggressive dominance, bullying his subordinates all the time, on the other hand he may act as a sort of "controller" who governs social relations by social skill, sustained by appreciation from his companions, rather than by aggressive intimidation.

This polarity in possible dominance styles is so general that it has also frequently been reported in animal research (See for instance the empirical and experimental findings about differences in dominant behaviour in e.g., langurs by Poirier (1970), stumptail macaques by Bertrand (1969), in japanese monkeys by Itani et al.(1963) and by Yamada (1966), in mountain gorillas by Fossey (1972), and in chimpanzees by Reynolds & Luscombe (1969)). Differences of this sort between dominant individuals have been described in a number of species including man by Chance & Jolly (1970) and Wilson (1977,pp.311-313), and in Man by e.g., Lippitt & White (1958) and Krech et al. (1962,ch. 12). Gibb (1969), Strayer & Strayer (1976), Hold (1976), and Sluckin & Smith (1977) report such differences in dominance-styles of children, and of adolescents (Savin-Williams, 1977). Hold labels these differences thus (p. 194) :

" , there are two opposite leadership styles, called by Gibb (1969) "leadership" and "domination". With leadership, authority is spontaneously accorded by fellow group members whereas with domination there is little or no shared feeling or joint action and authority derives from some extra-group power."

Benjamin(1974,1979) and Golding & Knudson (1975), evaluating and revising earlier theories (Leary, 1957; Schaefer, 1965), construct a three-dimensional structural analytic model of interpersonal behaviour in which "differences in dominance style" is one of the crucial dimensions. In their model this dimension is labeled "aggressive dominance" versus "autonomy" and is suggested to depend on a sort of social learning. Individuals may learn to or be trained to behave less dependent and more autonomous, thus overcoming negative and aggressive dominant behavioural tendencies towards (dependent) subordinates. Similar differences are labeled as "authoritarian" versus "democratic" leadership in a survey by Krech et al. (1962).

Kirton (personal comm., 1986) also distinguishes different types of leaders, "innovators" and "adaptors". The latter tend to be more in line with group norms, traditions and established working methods. They can more often be characterized as "consensus-leaders" than the former type of leaders, the "innovators". Innovators have a tendency to be abrasive and insensitive at the social level, causing a great deal of unintentional havoc and conflict involuntarily. This type of leader is much like Rogers' "creative loner" (Kirton, 1976; Rogers, 1959). Kirton's research has shown a personality-temperamental basis to exist behind these differences in leadership style, among other things in terms of cognitive style differences (Kirton, 1986). We shall return to this temperamental aspect further below.

Table 1.
[1] Basic Energy Level
[2] Basic Level of Urges for Social Contact and Interaction
[3] Basic Level of Urges for Non-Social Needs; Self-Will
[5] Sensitivity (general level of drives and urges)
[6] Self-Will versus Compliance; Thing-Oriented versus Person-Oriented; Balance between [3] and [2]
[8] General Activity Level (influenced by Basic Energy Level [1] and social role aspects ([9] and [10])
[9] Dominance, Ascendancy
[10] Acceptedness, Incrowd versus Outcast
[11] General Level of Skills and Abilities
[13] Appreciatedness; Positive versus Negative Evaluation Dimensions ("Good" versus "Bad")


Styles of Subordinacy

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Having reviewed these aspects of dominance, we shall now take a closer look at subordinacy and the varying forms it may assume.

Variation between subordinate roles in terms of tolerance and accepted-ness, in terms of incrowd-outcast differences, and so forth, are reported from social psychological research as well as from research on other socially living mammal species. In general, it appears that individuals who do not manage to attain a dominant role (α-position in fig.l) may either stay in a subordinate position while adapting to existing rule, or tend to lose their in-crowd position. Accepted (incrowd-)subordinates (β-position in fig.l) may gradually grow into a semi-outcast or outcast position (ω-position in fig.l). Such outcast-like subordinates are potential migrators, running all the risks implied (ω — > α ; or ω - >dead), whereas the better accepted incrowd-type subordinates, who show a better adaption to existing hierarchical pressures eventually may succeed the dominant(s) present in case of death or otherwise incapacitation of the latter (β —> α). Especially in relation to dispersal mechanisms operating through young individuals, such differences in social-role types have frequently been observed (Wilson, 1977; Barash, 1977). (Similar descriptions have been given for e.g., deermice (Healey, 1967), free-living populations of black rats (Ewer, 1971,pp. 135-137), free-living lions (Bertram, 1975) rhesus monkeys (Vandenbergh, 1966), free-living japanese monkeys (Itani et al., 1963; Yamada, 1966) and by Eisenberg et al.(1972) for a number of primate species.) Bertrand (1969) reports the occurrence of "scapegoats" in stumptail-macaques and de Waal (1975) in java monkeys. The latter reports that high ranking individuals often formed alliances against the lowest ranking adults or adolescents although each of the highranking monkeys clearly dominated the scapegoat in question also without any help of others. De Waal (1975,p.530) suggests:

"...., one might suppose that higher-ranking groupmembers "work off their mutal irritations and tensions"in that way. In other words: the (inevitable) confrontations between them facilitate aggressiveness, which is not expressed in aggressive actions between each other, but ((inevitable) confrontations between them facilitate aggressiveness, \which is not expressed in aggressive actions between each other, but/ in cooperative aggression (re)directed at subordinates which serve as "scapegoats"."

Whatever the reason for this "mobbing against scapegoats" may be, it certainly magnifies the differences between β- and ω-type subordinates.

The "Accepted versus Outcast" Dimension

✰✰✰ <level 3>   The differences between "outcast-type" and "in crowd-type" subordinate roles (dimension [10] in fig. 1) can also be recognized in human behaviour (e.g., Hold (1976) on different role-types of low ranking children in kindergartens; Esser et al. (1965) on psychiatric patients in a ward; and Jackson (1959, in Sampson, 1971), Scheflen & Scheflen (1972) and Milgram (1974) on adults in general).

β- and ω-type subordinate roles in humans tend to be very much situation dependent and can change from place to place and moment to moment. In his study on obedience to authority and conformity to group norms, Milgram (1974) on purpose stretched the readiness of subjects to comply with the authority in question to the breaking point and investigated the factors which influenced the moment at which compliance would change into disobedience. He explains that in relation to the hierarchical setting they are in, people may be in different frames of mind, one of which he calls the "agentic state" and the other "autonomy". The former state of mind, in which the person in question is emotionally integrated into a larger organizational structure, may suddenly change into autonomy and he calls such a change "critical shift". It is apparently this "critical shift" which is of central importance in the processes that determine whether an individual in a particular situation sustains a compliant β-role or eventually starts drifting towards an ω-position. Milgram thus depicts the emotions which prevail during such a "critical shift":

"For most people, it is painful to renege on the promise of aid they made to the experimenter. While the obedient subject shifts responsibility for shocking the learner onto the experimenter, those who disobey accept responsibility for destruction of the experiment. In disobeying, the subject believes he has ruined the experiment, thwarted the purposes of the scientist, and proved inadequate to the task assigned to him. But at that very moment he has provided the measure we sought and an affirmation of humanistic values. The price of disobedience is a gnawing sense that one has been faithless. Even though he has chosen the morally correct action, the subject remains troubled by the disruption of the social order he brought about, and cannot fully dispel the feeling that he deserted a cause to which he had pledged support. It is he, and not the obedient subject, who experiences the burden of his action."

and when the subject stays in the "agentic state" and meets the authority's expectations:

" , the subject fears that if he breaks off, he will appear arrogant, untoward, and rude. Such emotions, although they appear small in scope alongside the violence being done to the learner, nonetheless help bind the subject into obedience. They suffuse the mind and feelings of the subject, who is miserable at the prospect of having to repudiate the authority to his face. The entire prospect of turning against the experimental authority, with its attendant disruption of a well-defined social situation, is an embarrasment that many people are unable to face up to.In an effort to avoid this awkward event, many subjects find obedience a less painful alternative."

The Significance of "Outcasts" for Social Structures

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Whereas these data demonstrate the reversability of the distinct subordinate role attitudes, individuals may also assume extreme β or ω-type subordinate roles of a more permanent character.

White & Lippitt (1960) and Scheflen & Scheflen (1972) describe the process of creating chronic "scapegoats" (extreme β-types) as a fundamental process in the functioning of human social groups. They describe the physical as well as the cognitive and communicative aspects of the processes that lead to either getting stuck in a superdependent immobilized "scapegoat"-role or to becoming "outcast" (ω)-type). In their opinion chronic superdependent immobilized persons tend to neuroticism by accepting guilt and assuming the scapegoat role and thus getting stuck in cumulating "double-binds" (Laing, 1967,1970; Watzlawick & Fish, 1973), whereas anti-social types tend to deny guilt, generally refuse to be immobilized in a scapegoat role and tend to stay socially mobile, although in peripheral social roles.

Parallel to what de Waal (1975) suggested in the case of java monkeys, Scheflen & Scheflen (1972) explain how in their opinion every human social group or society generates automatically its own neurotic "scapegoats", deviates and outcasts as a necessary by-product of continuous consolidation and reaffirmation of internal cognitive values and social order. Such marginal social roles serve for the society in question as a necessary external frame against which the internal social values and role criteria may be projected and by which the "shoulds" and "should not's" for all its members are continuously exemplified (Erikson, 1966).

This view suggests that neuroticism is the opposite of anti-social, peripheral, outcast-like behaviour and the only way to escape from both of these extreme role patterns seems to lie in the acquisition of large doses of social skills. Only (social) skills enable a subordinate to develop a bearable modus vivendi with the authorities in question, without becoming rigidly absorbed in cumulating double-binds and neuroses.

Interpersonal Circles in Human (Social) Psychological research

✰✰✰ <level 3>   The above description of Dominance / Ascendancy versus Subordinancy and Incrowd versus Outcast spanning a two-dimensional space of social role patterns in socially living species in general, has its equivalent in the Interpersonal Circle tradition in social psychological research. From Leary (1957), through Kiesler (1982,1983) and more recent social psychological authors, research data have been summarized in their Interpersonal Circles, of which we give two examples here.

                                • Hier Interpersonal Circle plaatje invoegen (.pdf # 246, 248)**********************
                              • Hier Circle van Donald J. Kiesler invoegen (.pdf # 245)**********************

Situation-Dependence of Social Roles

✰✰✰ <level 3>   These descriptions of varying styles of subordinacy and the data about varying styles of dominance give us a more precise idea of the morphology of social roles. However, the possible connection between these two dimensions of social role behaviour and congenital traits may as yet still be unclear. Moreover, the distribution of social roles is very much situation-dependent.

Wilson (1977,p.294), in his sociobiology book, reviews a host of research data on social role differences in man and other socially living mammals. He points out that, whereas it may seem that dominance orders can be fully characterized if we are given knowledge of the finite set of characteristics that determine individual competence: size, age, hormone-mediated aggressiveness, and so forth, up to and including the subtle components of personality, this turns out not to be the case. Mathematical analysis has revealed that the observed degrees of orderliness and stability of many of the hierarchies in chicken flocks and other animal groups cannot be easily explained even with a full knowledge of the determinants and their correlations with fighting ability. Chase (1973,1974) views the formation (of a dominance order) as a magnification process in which combinations of ability and luck increasingly drive some animals downward in rank while lifting others upward. Aggressive animals will seek out others, while more timid ones will consistently avoid confrontations. Repeatedly successful encounters increase the probability of success in later encounters, and make a contest with a timid animal still more of a mismatch. Accidental events, such as fatigue on a certain day or a chance blow, will start an animal upward or downward. The dominance order will stabilize as all of the pairwise encounters become strongly asymmetric, with one contestant clearly dominating another, and the order approaches one of the few available stable states at or near linearity." Similar considerations hold for the differen¬ces between an accepted subordinates role and an outcast position.

Relation with the domain of Basic Traits of Temperament

✰✰✰ <level 3>   No matter how important accidental circumstances and chance events are for the establishment of social roles, congenital differences between individuals can still be of considerable importance. This is particularly so because the latter influences are consistently in the same direction over long periods of time.

If we could specify a congenital trait factor influencing the likelihood of an individual to drift into an outcast or out-group position (ω) if unable to acquire a dominant position (α), as opposed to the likelihood of ending up in an accepted in-crowd or in-group position of compliant subordinacy then we could specify a functional relation between the social role domain and the domain of congenital traits, provided such a factor would, to some extent, indeed have genetic roots.This would then render us one of the anchoring points in the multidimensional space of personality characteristics, required to overcome the chaotic diversity and indeterminacy of existing personality dimensions. It would in fact be an anchoring dimension in the trait space of congenital factors, enabling us to carry out meaningful (orthogonal) rotations in this sub-space of personality. At the same time it would represent a specific bias with respect to the trait space of social role factors in that this congenital trait dimension would contain information about the likelihood of ending up in the various social-role positions. The congenital trait dimension in question would thus be proportional to p(ω|not-α), which equals l-[p(β|not-α)]. And this then implies a specific correlation with the dimensions from the social role domain. The domain of social role dimensions and the domain of congenital trait dimensions would thus be interconnected in a clear and functionally meaningful way.

In the following paragraphs we shall investigate if such a trait can indeed be found in personality psychological research literature.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   From a theoretical point of view, we might get closer to identifying a suitable anchoring dimension by focussing on the balance within individuals between two groups of basic biological needs, viz., the need for having one's own way in fulfilling one's non-social personal needs [3], and the need for social contact and interaction [2] (see Fig.2). And it is the balance, within the individual, between these two sets of very essential biological urges which determines whether in a certain setting the individual will more often choose to sacrifice some of his personal freedom in favour of social peace, or rather will choose to take some social conflict and struggle for granted in order to fulfill his individual needs on the non-social level. In the course of time such behavioural biases then will tend to work out as the different social role types indicated above.

The internal balance between the two above mentioned sets of biological urges may be labeled as "self-will versus compliance" and also as "individualistic and thing-oriented versus social" [6] (= [3]-[2]). The latter functionally follows from the former, since relatively weak urges for social closeness and interaction imply a relatively high frequency of individualistic and thing-oriented behaviour.

We can put this line of reasoning in a scheme like this:

                                      • Tabel-figuur hier invoegen uit de presentatie v. Stockholm (.pdf # 244)*****************************

Research Evidence: Person- versus Thing-orientedness

✰✰✰ <level 3>   The plausibility of such an anchoring point in the domain of temperament traits is indeed corroborated by a substantial amount of personality-psychological literature on similar or closely related dimensions. Abrams and Neubauer (1976) report for instance that human infants differ considerably in the way they divide their attention between persons and objects. This trait dimension which they called "thing versus human oriented-ness" was manifest as early as in the second month of life. They write:

"Evidence from this and other studies support the view that the tendency toward preference originates in the early caretaker-infant interaction. This interaction is a product of both congenital and environmental determinates." - and - "The more thing-oriented child shows a greater freedom in exploration "

Figure 2. Two sets of basic biological urges ([2] and [3]) and their balance [6].

Therefore this dimension of "Thing versus Human orientedness" (or Sociability) can also be labeled as "Explorative versus Social". Abrams & Neubauer (1976) suggest furthermore that learning processes are shaped in a way which is different for each type of child:

Training issues are characterized essentially as "tasks" for the more thing-oriented child; for the human-disposed infant, they are characterized as acts in the spectrum of approval or disapproval. Task-orientation and achievement-orientation soon move on toward still further proclivity for exploratory preoccupations and work interests in the first group; ...........; the second group becomes more involved with situational activities replete with role assignments and thrusts toward fantasy.

Playing "house" typifies the latter ........... If earlier impressions were that the more thing-oriented children are more outer- directed, by the third year of life they appeared more inclined to be motivated by inner determinants and resources, a distinction which seems to persist thereafter. .......... The dispositions of infants are re-enforced in the milieu, as implements in evolving strategies are cycled back into the psychologic system and thus inevitably emerge as traits of character.

Hold (1976) reports that children who rank high in the attention structure tend to set initiatives instead of complying to the initiatives of other children and that they prefer to play alone when the leading role was already taken by another high-ranking child. It seems that these children do not like to be commanded by other children. This runs parallel to the meaning of the suggested anchoring dimension, which is that self-willed individuals are more prone to become either dominants or "loners" than β-type compliant subordinates. Hold's findings therefore also suggest that such self-willed individuals are prone to become more thing-oriented and less social, since "loners" are by definition less sociable.

Satellizers versus Non-satellizers, Adaptors versus Innovators

✰✰✰ <level 3>   A similar contrast is found by Edwin McClain (1978) in his study on the behaviour of adult women. He discerns between females (e.g., feminists) who are dominated by a need for independence and females (e.g. nonfeminists) who are dominated by a need for affiliation. McClain, like Ausubel (1952), points out that two basically opposing patterns of maturation occur in the parent- child relationship during a youngster's early years. He terms the resulting personality types as "satellizers" who tend to adapt to existing rules, versus "nonsatellizers" who tend to behave in a more individualistic way.

"The satellizing child establishes her life orbit about her parents, whom she perceives as the benign source of all that is good in her life. In contrast, the nonsatellizing child rejects this kind of dependency because she believes that her welfare lies in her freedom to choose her own course" (McClain, 1978, p.436).

The material of McClain's study was derived from behaviour of women. Kirton (1976,1978) investigated the balance between adaptiveness and innovativeness in adults in general. The K.A.I. (Kirton Adaption Innovation Inventory) was developed as a psychometric instrument for these investigations. Kirton based his instrument on the notion that a person confronted with a problem has a choice: he can do things "better" or "more" to solve the problem (adapt) or he can do things "differently" (innovate). Doing things "better" implies the acceptance of the old framework, while doing things "differently" means breaking accepted patterns. The "adaptor" is right at home in bureaucracies, which tend to become more adaptor-oriented as time goes on, whereas the natural position of high "innovators" seems to be out on a limb. Kirton's work is of special significance for the performance of leaders (Kirton, 1961,1977; Thomson, 1980). He shows that innovators tend to become initiating and directing "task"-leaders whereas adaptors tend to become consideration- oriented "maintenance-specialists" of social relations. This is in line with differences between leader-types as described by e.g., Bales (1953), Halpin & Winer (1957), Thibaut & Kelly (1959) and Krech et al. (1962).

Innovativeness may further be considered as a (by some people) positively appreciated creative variant of non-conformism and disobedience. "Conformity" as defined by Krech et al. (1962) is related to the trait dimension "Thing- oriented and Self-willed versus Social and Compliant". They conclude that some people are more resistant to group pressures and demands (the hard-core independents and the deviants) than are others (the easy conformists) (ib., p.486), and that their findings offer strong support for the proposition that conformity tendencies are significantly related to enduring personality factors in the individual" (ib., p.527). The relevance for our anchoring point becomes especially clear where they define Conformity as a "trait of the person" as opposed to Conformity as a "trait of the situation" (or social-role dimension in our words).

" ....... conformity might be thought of as a "trait of the situation". [and] There are also marked individual differences in general readiness to conform, over a wide variety of situations. These differences ..... reflect conformity as a "trait of the person". This distinction between conformity as reflecting the conformity-inducing properties of a situation and as reflecting the conforming propensity of a person should be kept well in mind. Much of the controversy and misunderstanding about the facts and theories of conformity stems from a confusion of these two aspects of conformity" (Krech et al., 1962, p.507).

Data from Factoranalytic Personality Research

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Of particular interest for this anchoring point is of course the eventual existence of such a dimension in factoranalytic personality research.

Feij (1978) compares the trait models of Heymans (1932), Eysenck (1953), Zuckerman (1974), Strelau (1974ab) (See on these matters also Strelau, 1983 and Strelau et al., 1981) and Buss et al. (1973,1975), amongst others. These authors often use different classes of subjects and prefer different final rotations of their resulting factorial models. Nevertheless, some of their dimensions closely resemble our dimension "Self-willed & Individualistic & Thing-oriented & Explorative" versus "Compliant & Social" [6]. Heymans' dimension "primary versus secondary" is related with sociability and impulsiveness (Feij, 1978), as are Eysenck's and Feij's dimensions of "Extraversion" (Buss & Plomin, 1975; Feij, 1978). A high score on Zuckerman's (1974) and Feij's (1978; 1979,et al.) dimension of "sensation seeking" indicates a strong need for change, exploration and new experiences, a tendency towards indepen-dence of other people and an anti-authoritarian attitude, while "low sensation seeking" implies a tendency to comply with conventional values and rules. Feij (1978) stresses that extreme sensation seekers may on the one hand be anti-social, drop-out delinquents, but may on the other hand be unconventional but fully accepted creative innovators (p.293). This resembles the statement made in one of the previous paragraphs, that highly Self-willed individuals tend either to become drop-outs(ω) or accepted innovators in the focus of attention (α's) and that individuals with a low Self-will tend to assume β-roles compliantly. Buss 6c Plomin's (1975) dimension "Sociability" indicates a strong need to be together with others, a high responsiveness towards others and a predilection for social interaction above non-social reinforcers (Feij, 1978).

Also in most other factoranalytic classification systems a dimension may be discerned which is related to our concept of "Self-willed and thing-oriented versus Compliant and Social". In Cattell's Sixteen-Personality-Factor set for instance, the dimension labeled as "Liberalism" (Qj) is supposed to measure an underlying tendency toward nonconformity and independence versus a need for affiliation (Cattell, Eber & Tatsuoka, 1970; Karson & O'Dell, 1976; McClain, 1978).

Genetical Aspects

✰✰✰ <level 3>   Various writers point out that a genetical basis of "sociability" and related dimensions has been repeatedly established (Eysenck, 1967; Vandenberg, 1967; Buss et al., 1973,1975; Feij, 1978; Claridge et al., 1973; Eaves 6c "Eysenck, 1975; Wilson, 1977; Plomin 6c Rowe, 1977,1979). In Feij's integrative research on data from Eysenck, Zuckerman, Strelau, Buss, Plomin and others, his final factor model has two more or less orthogonal dimensions of which a hereditary component has been demonstrated and which seem related to our anchor- dimension "Self-willed, Individualistic, Thing-oriented, Explorative versus Compliant, Social" ([6] in fig.3). Feij labels them as "Extraversion" (like Eysenck's dimension to which it is strongly related), respectively as "Sensation Seeking" (like Zuckerman's dimension). His topological system does not include a genetically based dimension "Activity" as do e.g., Buss 6c Plomin's (1975) or Strelau's (1983; 1981 et al.) systems, but both these dimensions of Feij may be conceived of as correlated with "Activity" because a high activity enhances a higher score on either scale (Feij, 1978; 1979, et al). Therefore Feij's two dimensions "Extraversion" and "Sensation Seeking" appear to be similar to the above mentioned anchor-dimension [6], together with the dimension "Activity-level"[8] (see Fig.3).


✰✰✰ <level 3>   In summary, we may conclude that in psychological literature, data can indeed be found which support the view that the (partly genetically based) dimension "Thing-oriented/Explorative/Individualistic versus Social/Person-oriented/Com- pliant" or in more basic terms "Self-Willed versus Adaptive" (dimension [6] in Fig.2 and Fig.3) is a useful anchoring point in the domain of temperament traits, in particular because it also has clear implications for and correlates in the realm of social-role dimensions. A high score on this trait dimension implies a higher than average likelihood to end up in outcast -like (ω-like) subordinate positions rather than in accepted incrowd-type subordinate positions (β-like) [formalized: 0.5 < p(ω|not-α) = l-[p(β|not-α)] < 1.0]. This anchoring point can thus bring about an easier and better defined integration of personality constructs from the social-interactive domain with those from the congenital trait domain.

Feij's dimensions "Extraversion" ([8]-[6])and "Sensation Seeking" ([8]+[6]), the balance between them [6], and their relation with the "General Activity Level" [8].
                                  • Hier de figuur van .pdf # 249 *************************

Constructs such as Leary's (1957) and Schaefer's (1959,1965,1971) circumplex-structures of social behaviour or as Benjamin's (1974,1979) multilayer-circumplex structures can thus be integrated in a meaningful way with dimensions from the trait-domain, while the anchoring point directly predicts correlations to be expected between factors from the two domains.

Figure 4. Probabilities of phenotypic social-role types and skills relative to traits of temperament (cosines between vectors being proportional to their intercorrelations).

Fig.4 tentatively depicts how this anchoring dimension, interfacing the social role space with the space of congenital traits, specifies the (cor)relations between the two spaces. It shows the two before mentioned dimensions from the social-role space ("Dominance/Ascendancy versus Subordinacy"[9] and "Acceptedness/Incrowd versus Outcast/Peripheral"[10]) as projected (dotted lines) on a two-dimensional part of the congenital trait space (solid lines). The (congenital) trait dimension "Self-Willed/Innovative versus Compliant/Adaptive"[6] is in this figure not coinciding precisely with the projection of the social-role dimension "Acceptedness"[10]. This is because a high congenital basic level of, for instance, energy is also considered to enhance the likelihood of attaining preferred social role positions (α, or, if that role is no longer available, β rather than ω). It should furthermore be noted that the "projections" of the social-role dimensions have to be interpreted as indicating relative social-role probabilities. Since accidental environmental circumstances naturally determine the actual distribution of social roles to a high degree, these social-role probabilities can never be close to 100%. For instance: the angle in fig.4 between the dotted line "Acceptedness"[10] and the solid line "Compliance"[6] being 30°, does not mean that the correlation between scores for "Compliance/Adaptiveness" and the likelihood of scoring high on "Acceptedness" is equal to cosine 30° (= ½√3 = 0.866), but rather that it equals (1-E) * cosine 30°. The correction factor (1-E) then expresses the fact that the environmental influences (E; 0<E<1) are always responsible for a major part of the variance in the realm of social roles.

Variability of Correlations between the Different Realms of Personality

✰✰✰ <level 3>   In order to avoid misconceptions about the nature of the "interface" between these two realms of personality and to clarify what the projection in fig.4 of one realm on the other indicates conceptually, we should also stress the following. The maximum height of the correlations to be expected between congenital traits and social-role characteristics depends of course on the variations in the environment (which means that (1-E) is not a fixed factor, but is in itself also strongly environment-dependent). In the case that the environmental influences are very much the same for everybody, the variable "E" is low and thus the strength of the correlation between "Compliance"[6] and "Acceptedness"[10] goes up. If the environmental influences are more variable from person to person, the variable "E" is high, the factor (1-E) low, and thus the correlation in question is low. This variable "E" is also meant to include social environmental influences. Already existing social role structures also strongly influence an individual's future social role options. It is one of the specific peculiarities of social-role differences, that they are strongly dependent on already existing social structures. The change from one social role pattern into another is stochastic in character. Distribution of social roles is more dependent on all-or-none processes than is the variability on other personality characteristics.

The implications of this anchoring point at the interface between the social-role and the temperamental trait domain were applied (v.d.Molen & de Graaf, 1979; v.d.Molen, 1984) in order to improve the interpretation of Brokken and Hofstee's dimensions, which, like Norman's Big Five, were based on an exhaustive set of personality descriptive adjectives (Brokken, 1978). At the beginning of this paper these studies were mentioned as examples of an approach in which the often debated biases of personality psychologists, each capitalizing on particular sets of traditionally favoured questionnaires, were effectively bypassed. Up to this moment however, the dimensions based on this "lexicographic" approach have suffered from orthogonality and the subsequent ambiguity of meaning.

The relations as summarized in fig.4 were (together with similar postula¬tes about the consequences of energy and activity levels on abilities and skills and on social role distributions (For the sake of concision we do not expatiate here on these dimensions of basic energy and activity level and their inter(cor)relations with abilities, skills and social role aspects. The interested reader may refer to v.d.Molen (1984b and 1986b)) utilized to specify particular cases of obliqueness to be allowed for. The result was compared with the conventional orthogonal factor solutions. It was shown that utilization of the proposed anchoring dimensions could render a final factor solution in which the dimensions within each domain could indeed be kept orthogonal to one another, and in which the correlations between factors from different domains were indeed as predicted. The resulting factors showed far less ambiguity and were therefore much easier to interpret than the factors from conventional all-orthogonal solutions.

Figure 5. Probabilities of phenotypic social-role types and skills relative to temperament traits


✰✰ <level 2>   It was pointed out in the first paragraphs that, in order to discover the underlying structure in the chaotic variety of personality dimensions currently in use, a minimum requirement is to distinguish properly between: 1) social role aspects, which are highly dependent on accidental social circumstances, 2) basic traits with a congenital basis, which are the most stable personality aspects, and 3) dimensions of learned skills and abilities, which are the result of interactive effects between congenital characteristics and a great variety of environmental influences. One has to be aware that which of these categories will dominate in any set of empirical or experimental data, depends on the bias and the focus of interest in the research in question. In practice, psychological personality dimensions as emerging from the same (sub)disciplines often seem rather different or even not related to one another at all, while dimensions, emerging from rather diverse disciplines, often show considerable overlap in meaning. The total picture of current traditions in personality psychological research therefore gives a rather incoherent and chaotic impression.

In the beginning of this paper it was pointed out that in our search for an over-all picture of personality dimensions we would, while limiting ourselves to orthogonal final factor solutions, never be able to find a functionally and conceptually clear final picture. Nor would we be able to succeed while relying on oblique factor solutions without having target criteria specifying the correlations to be expected and implying at the same time a specification of the functional relations leading to these correlations. It was pointed out that in theory the most promising method would be to combine these two strategies selectively, yielding a maximum of sparsity by insisting on orthogonality where possible - within the separate personality domains -, and yielding a maximum of functional and conceptual clarity by allowing in a precisely specified way for correlations between these domains.

This led us to conclude that data on personality dimensions from the whole area of psychological research can be integrated into a functionally meaningful and inclusive model by the following approach:

1.) In the first place, allow for dependency (obliqueness) between dimensions of social behaviour and traits of temperament, thus allowing for functional (cor)relations between these categories proper;

2.) In the second place, choose such axes of reference in the domain of temperament traits, that their significance for the distribution of social roles is clear a-priori. To that end one can begin by selecting main axes of social-role behaviour which primarily describe:

The differences between dominant and subordinate behaviour (ascendancy),

The differences between "incrowd/affiliation"- and "outcast/rejection" behaviour,

(And in the case of ordering data from trait ratings one may add a dimension which describes differences in the degree of being positively/negatively appreciated or "evaluation dimension", which is a function of social role operations.)

A functional relation between the domain of social-role behaviour and the domain of temperament traits is then to be expected if one of the trait dimensions is defined as the predisposition to assume an outcast (ω-)role rather than a compliant subordinate (β-)role, or as the "Balance between Self-willed and Compliant tendencies".

From the last paragraphs (see also fig.4) the major advantages of the proposed anchoring point may now be clear. It is not just some canonical axis in the classical sense, that only can be utilized once for a classical target rotation. Rather, this anchoring dimension indeed serves as a rotation target twice, once for the realm of social-role dimensions and one more time for the realm of congenital basic traits. Moreover, it does indeed predict by implication causal relations between a factor from the basic trait level ("Self-willed and Thing- oriented versus Compliant and Sociable" [6]) and factors from the social role domain ("Dominance or Ascendancy"[9] and "Acceptedness"[10]), thus predicting, or rather, prescribing their intercorrelations.

This proposed anchoring dimension thus illustrates that the requirements for overcoming the present chaos and confusion of tongues in the area of personality research, are not necessarily Utopian.

Figure 6. Anchoring dimensions.

Summary in bullets

Principal categories of behavioural differences between individuals

  1. (congenital) basic traits of temperament
    • genes * (environment)
  2. skills and abilities
    • genes * environment
  3. social positions (- role behaviour)
    (incl. +/- evaluation dimension; agreeableness)
    • (genes) * learning * accidental circumstances
    • dictionary approach
    • questionnaire - versus observational approach

1., 2. and 3. differ in:

  1. source (causal mechanism)
  2. possibility of manipulation
  3. traditional methods of investigation
  4. persistence in time (stability)
  • What investigators find experimentally and cherish, seems to depend on their point of departure, point of view, local traditions, etc.
  • personality dimensions from the different psychological sub-disciplines (trait-theory, social psychology, developmental psychology, etc.) often seem rather incompatible with one another.
  • even within sub-disciplines various different personality theories exist which seem hardly compatible with one another.


  • Confusion of tongues; too many local traditions.
  • Personality Factors often a Mix of :
    • Role-, Trait-, and Ability-aspects;
    • Contamination between these Main-Categories of Personality.
  • Orthogonality of factor-solutions often a Mathematical "Artifact".
  • Orthogonality between:
    • trait- and role-factors,
    • trait- and skill-factors,
    • role- and skill-factors,
often Theoretically Impossible
  • Final Rotations (even if orthogonal) very Arbitrary.
  • If Obliqueness allowed: Rotations even móre Arbitrary!

Figure 7. Separate, but inter(cor)related personality domains.

SOLUTION : Integration of various personality domains by:

  • distinguishing clearly between:
    • dimensions of social role differences ..
    • dimensions of skills and abilities
  • choosing the axes of reference in the temperament domain in such a way that their significance for the distribution of social roles is clear a-priori. (this settles for both domains the classic problem of where to put the axes of reference)
  • allowing for dependency (obliqueness) between dimensions from the social role domain and dimensions from the trait domain, etc.

Each anchoring dimension then defines:

  • one basic temperament trait dimension,
  • one dimension from the social-role and/or the abilities and skills domain,
  • the inter(cor)relation between them.

Thus some oblique relations are specified, while at the same time the over-all indeterminacy is greatly reduced!


  1. "thing-oriented versus social"
    • "self-willed versus compliant"
    • P(ω|not-α) versus P(β|not-α)
    • Probability(outcast non-dominant) versus P(incrowd non-dominant)
  2. "basic energy level"
    • P(skills & abilities)
    • P(α) versus P(ω U β)
    • P(ascendancy)

Figure 8. Model of the dynamics of temperaments and social behaviour.
Table 1.
[1] Basic Energy Level
[2] Basic Level of Urges for Social Contact and Interaction
[3] Basic Level of Urges for Non-Social Needs; Self-Will
[5] Sensitivity (general level of drives and urges)
[6] Self-Will versus Compliance; Thing-Oriented versus Person-Oriented; Balance between ![3] and ![2]
[8] General Activity Level (influenced by Basic Energy Level ![1] and social role aspects (![9] and ![10])
[9] Dominance, Ascendancy
[10] Acceptedness, Incrowd versus Outcast
[11] General Level of Skills and Abilities
[13] Appreciatedness; Positive versus Negative Evaluation Dimensions ("Good" versus "Bad")

Other publications on this subject

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1979): "The Ethology of Interindividual Differences; a contribution from the boundary between personality psychology and ethology", Acta Biotheoretica, 28(2), pp. 123-134; also available as Heymansbulletin HB-78-379-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.).

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1981): "Ethologische Analyse van Gedragsverschillen tussen Individuen; Wat er te halen valt in het Grensgebied tussen Persoonlijkheidspsychologie en Ethologie", Nederlands Tijdschrift v.d. Psychologie etc., 36(7), pp.517-529; ook beschikbaar als " Differentiele Ethologie; Pleidooi voor een Onderzoeksstrategie", Heymansbulletin HB-77-321-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.).

Research Reports and Prepublications:

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1972): "Onderzoek naar Individuele Gedragsverschillen tussen Mannetjesmuizen met behulp van Factoranalytische Technieken", doctoral report, Dept. of Behavioural Genetics, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.), 86 pp.

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1977): "Uitspraken over Muizen; Een Differentieel-Ethologische Analyse van het Sociale Gedrag met Bijzondere Aandacht voor Aggressie", Heymans¬bulletin HB-77-308- IN, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.).

v.d.Molen, P.P. & de Graaf, A.A. (1979): "Personality of Mice and Men" Heymansbulletin HB-78-402-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.).

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1980): "Dimensions and Dynamics of Personality from Mice to Man; A Biologist's View on Personality", Heymansbulletin HB-78-401-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.), (draft).

v.d.Molen, P.P. & de Graaf, A.A. (1981): "Personality of Mice and Men; Re-arranging Personality Dimensions in a Six-dimensional Adjective Space", Heymansbulletin HB-81-532-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.), revised edition of HB-78-402-EX.

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1984): "An Attempt to Overcome the "Alchemistical" Chaos in the Field of Personality Theories", Heymansbulletin HB-84-703- EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.), presented at the Second European Conference on Personality, Bielefeld, W.-Germany, May 1984.

v.d.Molen, P.P. (1986): "Personality Traits in Terms of Social-Role Probabilities (An innovative theoretical essay on the possibility of overcoming the chaotic diversity in personality theories)", Heymansbulletin HB-86-815-EX, Dept. of Psychology, Rijks Universiteit Groningen (R.U.G.), presented at the Third European Conference of Personality, Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 1986, and at the Fourth European Conference on Personality, Stockholm, Sweden, June 1988.


v.d.Molen, P.P. (20..): "Personality Revisited from a Biologist's Point of View; Towards an Integrated Theory of Personality", 150 pp.


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