Reflexive characteristic adaptations within the five-factor theory: Between basic tendencies and external outcomes
Do people judge personality using criteria different from the abstract perspective on a trait presented in conventional questionnaires? And if they do, what does it mean for the relation between personality and diverse life outcomes? With regard to the five-factor theory, these and associated issues are addressed by outlining an examination of a novel subclass of characteristic adaptations which I term reflexive. Reflexive characteristic adaptations (RCA) represent opinions and interpretations by means of which individuals monitor, and reflect on, their personality traits and the personality traits idea in general. In this study I have addressed three types of RCA: attitudes toward traits, meta-traits, and meta-attitudes toward traits. I was interested in the relationships between RCA and two types of external outcomes – online social networking (OSN) behavior and academic achievement. A sample of 1030 undergraduate students aged from 17 to 38 years (M = 19.65, SD = 1.72) was employed. Personality traits correlated indirectly with both OSN behavior (n = 830) and academic achievement (n = 739) via RCA. The contribution of meta-traits was different from that of attitudes toward traits and meta-attitudes toward traits. These contributions were either compensatory or amplifying. The implications of RCA are discussed.