The HEXACO personality model: what it is and its components

Understanding the personality has been, and is, one of the basic goals of psychology as a scientific discipline; because behind this phenomenon lies the key to discovering how human beings think, feel and behave in our natural environment.

That is why it has always been raised as one of the basic substrates of behavior or emotion, and for many years postulated theoretical models of different origin and structure, through which to approach its study and his analysis.

In this article, we’ll cover the most recent of them, more specifically the HEXACO personality model (Ashton and Lee, 2001). It is one of the proposals that has received the greatest scientific coverage over the past two decades, as it successfully integrates the roots that precede it and brings substantial innovations in this regard.

We will then give a brief overview of the epistemological context from which the model is derived, its valuable proposals (both in terms of form and content) and the areas in which it is currently applied. It will also evoke similarities and differences from previous models.

    HEXACO personality model

    The first thing that catches the “attention” of the HEXACO personality model is that it has 6 basic factors, one for each letter of its name, which allude to the different traits or factors that are included in it. It thus offers: honesty-humility (H), emotionality (I), extraversion (X), cordiality (A), scruple (C) and openness to experience (O); forming the acronym by which it became popular and plotting a series of dimensions in which any human being can be located. It is therefore about an intensity spectrum that includes “normal” and “pathological” personality (Which predisposes to mental health problems).

    thank you, this theoretical model represents an increase in the number of factors compared to the classic three-dimensional postulate of Eysenck (Neuroticism, extraversion and psychoticism) and the penny-dimensional of Costa and McCrae, which became known as the Big Five (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, kindness and responsibility). The latter has undoubtedly become the most widely used by the entire scientific community; although in recent years it has received much criticism for its failure to explain the full variance of human diversity.

    The HEXACO model, like the “Big Five”, was built from an analysis of the lexicon with which people described the forms that personality could take. That is, a sample of several languages ​​was used, and from its analysis were extracted the words that served to define the behavior of human beings, observing a consensus between cultures that could be summarized in the 6 factors finally included. in HEXACO. Of all these, the most relevant were neuroticism and extraversion, which also increased as those with the greatest predictive power in terms of emotional difficulties.

    And is one of the big goals of personality models to find at least protection and risk factors for the appearance of various psychopathologies. At the base of all this would be the interest in knowing the way in which human beings act and think when they interact with other people around them or with themselves, because from there it would be possible to predict and explain the nuances of their emotional and intimate life. All of this is very important when designing intervention programs that take into account individuality and adapt to the idiosyncrasy of the patient.

    The most important contribution of HEXACO is the honesty-humility factor, For which there was no analogue so far in previous personality models. Additionally, he renames neuroticism (qualifying it as emotional) and incorporates sentimentality as a facet of himself (formerly included in kindness). The redistribution of facets of each factor also extends to anger control, which has traditionally been part of neuroticism and with HEXACO is reassigned to kindness. The rest of the factors (both extraversion and openness to experience and scrupulous) remain very similar in their formulation.

    There is currently a questionnaire designed to explore the factors described and called HEXACO-PI (the review was carried out in 2006). It has three different versions, depending on the total number of items included; can be composed of 200, 100 or 60 reagents. The latter two are the most widely used, as they enjoy similar reliability (very good / excellent) and are less expensive to administer. In addition, they have an additional advantage: they can be answered by the same person or by a relative or acquaintance who knows them well.

      The 6 factors of the HEXACO model

      We go into more detail to see what each of the factors included in the HEXACO personality model expresses and how it is expressed. Keep in mind that none can be interpreted in negative terms, And that all people get higher or lower scores in all of them. Even so, the combination of intense neuroticism and low extraversion is known to constitute a risk profile for the development of clinically significant depression and anxiety.

      1. Honesty-humility

      The honesty-humility factor is, with complete certainty, the most relevant contribution of the HEXACO personality model to understanding how the personality works. It is an original contribution of the same, which broadens the number of basic dimensions and the perspective of analysis of the phenomenon.

      This factor it refers to sincerity, in which a preference is considered to speak the truth and omit any self-serving distortion of the facts. In addition, it is an adjusted perception of oneself, which avoids exalting one’s own worth and chooses to emphasize who one really is. Those who score high on this variable exercise a balanced sense of fairness in dealing with others and are able to give up pride when it comes to interfering with the view of relationship conflict. In short, they opt for persuasion based on authenticity.

      This factor is the basis of many power dynamics, in the private domain (sentimental life) and the public (economy and politics, for example). It is also linked to an absence of material greed and a lower hypothesis of risky behavior.

      2. Emotionalism

      The emotional factor equivalent to what other authors have called neuroticism. In this case, it refers to a pattern of behavior and persistent thought, the fundamental consequence of which is the vulnerability to suffer from depressive or anxiety disorders. Without a doubt, this is the dimension that has been most closely related to psychopathology, so it has been described (in one way or another) in all previous theoretical models of personality.

      People who score high on this trait feel anxious most of the time and worry too much about what has already happened or could happen. The emotion of fear becomes the most common on the scene of his emotional life, extraordinarily conditioning his actions and thoughts.

      all that it also switches to social interactions, Where a cervical fear of independence prevails or an excessive tendency to avoid. Either way, negative affect is more intense and much longer lasting, so it is present for a very large part of the time.

      Sentimentalism is also a very important part of emotionality. It results in a subjective experience of hypersensitivity to emotional fluctuations, so that their intensity and consequences are sharpened.

      3. Extraversion

      Extraversion is a trait linked, above all, to the social image that the subject has of himself and of the way in which this one projects himself in the scene of relations with others. People with high scores in this trait enjoy making friends, meeting other people and even taking a proactive stance in the group tasks they participate in. Such a tendency is accentuated by the optimistic perception of their social skills.

      Numerous studies have also shown that extraversion is associated with “positive” type emotions, such as enthusiasm and / or joy. In addition to all this, extroverts take better advantage of social networks (family or friends) at times of need, which is linked to a reduced risk of emotional disorders secondary to stress.

      4. Openness to experience

      Openness to experience describes the subject who is ready to accept the new and the different as one more part of what defines him. Curiosity is therefore the engine that drives their behavior and their emotions. This profile is also associated with preference for anything that is unconventional, for foreign interests aware of social preferences and for “creativity” in art and / or literature.

      People with high scores on this trait are interested in experiencing all kinds of emotions, immersing themselves in a varied or diverse life, and have little fear of the changes that come with time. They maintain the capacity for surprise in front of beauty, in which they usually revel (visit to museums, for example). Some research on this subject finds a direct relationship between this trait and the cultural level.

      5. Cordiality

      Cordiality is a factor associated with kindness and a willingness to seek social relationships for well-being. Those who score high on this factor forgive others when they are the victims of grievances, they are very kind in their relationships and flexible in the face of imperfection.

      However, in some cases this escalates into an unreal need to avoid conflict, depriving people of the opportunity to respond to the friction that is inevitably a part of everyday life (as they prefer to avoid such encounters).

      Finally, patience is an indivisible part of the factor. It is characterized by the ability to delay momentum when it is perceived that interactions are not favorable, therefore give the most “positive” response possible. It is at this stage that anger control is relocated, which belonged to the dimension of neuroticism in previous models.

      6. scruple

      The scrupulous dimension refers to the tendency to act in an organized manner and with a plan of action, instead of doing so through lack of thought or impulsiveness. It also includes the preference to intervene diligently, meet obligations and respond to environmental demands quickly and correctly. Those who score high on this trait are cautious in choosing the most effective alternative to action, although they can sometimes exhibit disproportionate perfectionism. In extreme cases, it is associated with what we today call obsessive-compulsive disorder.

      Research lines

      The HEXACO personality model currently benefits from a large volume of research; because it is considered very precise in describing patterns of behavior, thought and affection. In addition, the effect of the opposite poles is studied for each of the factors that compose it, because by their dimensional nature, they can be evaluated as spectra with their own dichotomous extremes.

      In this way, the model allows you to explore the impact of arrogance, stable affections, introversion, irresponsibility, irritability, etc. (Specular factors for each of the major dimensions). His profession extends to contexts as varied as self-management of health, addictive behavior, general psychopathology and any other imaginable field in which the personality can play a potentially relevant role. It is therefore a valuable contribution to psychological science, the fruits of which will allow us to move forward towards a better understanding of the human being.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Anglim, J., Knowles, E., Dunlop, P., and Marty, A. (2017). The HEXACO Personality and Schwartz’s Personal Values: A Facet Level Analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 68, 17-24.
      • Roncero, M., Fornés, G., Garcia-Soriano, G. and Belloch, A. (2014). The HEXACO personality model: relations with emotional psychopathology in a Spanish sample. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Psychology, 19 (1), 1-14.

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