Dimensions of Normal Personality as Networks in Search of Equilibrium: You Can't Like Parties if You Don't Like People

Angelique O. J. Cramer*, Sophie Van der Sluis, Arjen Noordhof, Marieke Wichers, Nicole Geschwind, Steven H. Aggen, Kenneth S. Kendler, Denny Borsboom

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    In one currently dominant view on personality, personality dimensions (e.g. extraversion) are causes of human behaviour, and personality inventory items (e.g. I like to go to parties and I like people) are measurements of these dimensions. In this view, responses to extraversion items correlate because they measure the same latent dimension. In this paper, we challenge this way of thinking and offer an alternative perspective on personality as a system of connected affective, cognitive and behavioural components. We hypothesize that these components do not hang together because they measure the same underlying dimension; they do so because they depend on one another directly for causal, homeostatic or logical reasons (e.g. if one does not like people and it is harder to enjoy parties). From this network perspective, personality dimensions emerge out of the connectivity structure that exists between the various components of personality. After outlining the network theory, we illustrate how it applies to personality research in four domains: (i) the overall organization of personality components; (ii) the distinction between state and trait; (iii) the genetic architecture of personality; and (iv) the relation between personality and psychopathology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)414-431
    JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • normal personality
    • networks
    • latent variable models
    • personality traits

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