A new Big Five: Fundamental principles for an integrative science of personality

Dan P. McAdams*, Jennifer L. Pals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1234 Scopus citations


Despite impressive advances in recent years with respect to theory and research, personality psychology has yet to articulate clearly a comprehensive framework for understanding the whole person. In an effort to achieve that aim, the current article draws on the most promising empirical and theoretical trends in personality psychology today to articulate 5 big principles for an integrative science of the whole person. Personality is conceived as (a) an individual's unique variation on the general evolutionary design for human nature, expressed as a developing pattern of(b) dispositional traits, (c) characteristic adaptations, and (d) self-defining life narratives, complexly and differentially situated (e) in culture and social context. The 5 principles suggest a framework for integrating the Big Five model of personality traits with those self-defining features of psychological individuality constructed in response to situated social tasks and the human need to make meaning in culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-217
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Life stories
  • Personality
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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