Original Research

The five-factor model and individualism and collectivism in South Africa: Implications for personality assessment

Sumaya Laher, Safia Dockrat
African Journal of Psychological Assessment | Vol 1 | a4 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajopa.v1i0.4 | © 2019 Sumaya Laher | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 November 2018 | Published: 28 March 2019

About the author(s)

Sumaya Laher, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Safia Dockrat, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


The five-factor model (FFM) of personality is one of the prominent models in contemporary psychology and defines personality in terms of five broad factors, namely Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. Recent research, however, questions the applicability of the FFM in non-Western cultures, suggesting that it is not exhaustive enough and that it does not account for some other personality factors, most notably Individualism and Collectivism. Yet, it remains the gold standard against which all personality instruments are compared. This study investigated whether the FFM of personality is related to Individualism and/or Collectivism in a sample of 272 South Africans from the general Johannesburg area. Individuals completed a questionnaire consisting of a demographic section, the Horizontal–Vertical Individualism/Collectivism scale and the NEO-PI-3. Exploratory factor analysis was used to analyse the data. The results indicated support for an Individualism–Collectivism dimension. These results are discussed within the context of the universal applicability of the FFM.


collectivism; five-factor model; individualism; NEO-PI-3; personality assessment


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