Affect, Behaviour, Cognition and Desire in the Big Five: An Analysis of Item Content and Structure

Joshua Wilt*, William Revelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Personality psychology is concerned with affect (A), behaviour (B), cognition (C) and desire (D), and personality traits have been defined conceptually as abstractions used to either explain or summarise coherent ABC (and sometimes D) patterns over time and space. However, this conceptual definition of traits has not been reflected in their operationalisation, possibly resulting in theoretical and practical limitations to current trait inventories. Thus, the goal of this project was to determine the affective, behavioural, cognitive and desire (ABCD) components of Big-Five personality traits. The first study assessed the ABCD content of items measuring Big-Five traits in order to determine the ABCD composition of traits and identify items measuring relatively high amounts of only one ABCD content. The second study examined the correlational structure of scales constructed from items assessing ABCD content via a large, web-based study. An assessment of Big-Five traits that delineates ABCD components of each trait is presented, and the discussion focuses on how this assessment builds upon current approaches of assessing personality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-497
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Big Five
  • Personality scales and inventories
  • Trait structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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