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Are all 30 NEO facets equally important?


The following list cites the 30 facets of the NEO and summarises which other systems the traits appear in. The systems in question are:
NEO Domains 10 item: A highly abbreviated version of the NEO. Both versions are by Costa & McCrae.
The Big Five Aspects Scale: An updated, less comprehensive, more precise version of the NEO.
HEXACO: Not technically the big 5 but a virtually identical system that is descended from the big 5 and uses the same methodology. It's not unreasonable to regard it as an updated version of the NEO in the same sense as the BFAS. The Honesty-Humility factor will be referenced but largely ignored (due to the fact that we are comparing a 6-trait system with 5-trait systems).
The purpose of this exercise is to ask the question: Are all 6 facets (per trait) equally important, or are some more important than others? If a facet appears in several different versions of the same basic personality system, then it would seem to be reasonable to assume that it is a more reliable indicator of a given trait than a facet that appears in only one of those systems.
[Due to the dry and technical nature of this analysis, the summary will be presented first, the working will be presented below the summary.]


This list will summarise how strong an indicator each facet appears to be, based on its ubiquity throughout the various big 5 systems:

Friendliness: Strong
Assertiveness: Strong
Cheerfulness: Strong
Gregariousness: Weak
Activity Level: Weak
Excitement-Seeking: Poor
Anxiety: Strong
Vulnerability: Strong
Anger: Quite Strong
Depression: Quite Strong
Self-Consciousness: Tepid
Immoderation: Poor
Orderliness: Strong
Self-Discipline: Strong
Self-Efficacy: Fair
Achievement-Striving: Fair
Cautiousness: Fair
Dutifulness: Questionable
Cooperation: Strong
Trust: Fair
Altruism: Fair
Modesty: Fair
Sympathy: Fair
Morality: Questionable
Openness (to experience)
Imagination: Strong
Artistic Interests: Strong
Intellect: Quite Strong
Liberalism: Not too weak but only appears in the work of Costa & McCrae so might be dubious
Adventurousness: Very weak
Emotionality: Almost totally invalid


The following list will simply clarify which other systems the given facet appears in. The facets will be listed by order of how often they appear in these systems. If an appearance is ambiguous (describing similar but not identical characteristics) this will be indicated with this symbol:[?] and will be regarded as a half appearance (2 half appearances = 1). If a facet appears in another system under an entirely different trait then this will be taken as -1, with the exception of facets that appear under the Honesty-Humility trait of HEXACO. The highest possible score is 3, the lowest is -3.


Friendliness: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Assertiveness: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Cheerfulness: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10 [?]: 2.5
Gregariousness: HEXACO: 1
Activity Level: HEXACO [?]. BFAS [?]: 1
Excitement-Seeking: [Appears amongst low scorers for "fearfulness" in the "Emotionality" (Neuroticism) trait of HEXACO [-1]]: -1
Anxiety: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Vulnerability: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Anger: [Appears under low scorers for Patience in Agreeableness in HEXACO]. BFAS. ND10: 1
Depression: [Appears under low scorers for "liveliness", Extraversion in HEXACO]. BFAS. ND10: 1
Self-Consciousness: BFAS: 1
Immoderation: 0
Orderliness: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Self-Discipline: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Self-Efficacy: HEXACO. BFAS: 2
Achievement-Striving: HEXACO. ND10: 2
Cautiousness: HEXACO. ND10: 2
Dutifulness: [Appears under Sincerity of Honest-Humility factor in HEXACO]. ND10: 1
Cooperation: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Trust: HEXACO. ND10: 2
Altruism: HEXACO[?]. BFAS. ND10[?]: 2
Morality: [Appears as "fairness" in the Honesty-Humility trait of HEXACO]. BFAS: 1
Modesty: [Appears under Honesty-Humility]. BFAS: 1
Sympathy: BFAS: 1
Openness (to experience)
Imagination: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Artistic Interests: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10: 3
Intellect: HEXACO. BFAS. ND10 [?]: 2.5
Liberalism: ND10: 1
Adventurousness: HEXACO [?]: 0.5
Emotionality: [Appears under Sentimentality, a facet of "Emotionality" (Neuroticism) in HEXACO]. [Referenced in the Compassion aspect of Agreeableness in BFAS]: -2

Excluding HEXACO

For those readers who feel that HEXACO isn't really a proper version of the big 5 and shouldn't be included in these calculations, here is the same list again but excluding HEXACO:
Friendliness: BFAS. ND10: 2
Assertiveness: BFAS. ND10: 2
Cheerfulness: BFAS. ND10 [?]: 1.5
Activity Level: BFAS [?]: 0.5
Gregariousness: 0
Excitement-Seeking: 0
Anxiety: BFAS. ND10: 2
Vulnerability: BFAS. ND10: 2
Anger: BFAS. ND10: 2
Depression: BFAS. ND10: 2
Self-Consciousness: BFAS: 1
Immoderation: 0
Orderliness: BFAS. ND10: 2
Self-Discipline: BFAS. ND10: 2
Self-Efficacy: BFAS: 1
Achievement-Striving: ND10: 1
Cautiousness: ND10: 1
Dutifulness: ND10: 1
Cooperation: BFAS. ND10: 2
Altruism: BFAS. ND10[?]: 1.5
Trust: ND10: 1
Morality: BFAS: 1
Modesty: BFAS: 1
Sympathy: BFAS: 1
Openness (to experience)
Imagination: BFAS. ND10: 2
Artistic Interests: BFAS. ND10: 2
Intellect: BFAS. ND10 [?]: 1.5
Liberalism: ND10: 1
Adventurousness: 0
Emotionality: [Referenced in the Compassion aspect of Agreeableness in BFAS]: -1
Note regarding Morality and Dutifulness

Although these are not excluded from other versions of the big 5, it is worth noting that some of the items for these two facets are more similar than they ideally ought to be. The independence of the big 5 traits is one of the bases of the claim that the system is more valid than other systems. As such, when highly similar items occur in two different traits, it calls the validity of those items into question.

C3: Dutifulness
High Scorers: Follow rules.
Low Scorers: Break rules.

A2: Morality
High Scorers: Stick to the rules.
Low Scorers: Know how to get around the rules.

Although these only account for 20% of the items for either facet, it does call the independence of these facets (and therefore their validity) into question.
References (primary sources listed at the bottom of each article):
The NEO | Wiki - Personality Database (
What is HEXACO? | Wiki - Personality Database (
Big Five Aspects (BFAS) | Wiki - Personality Database (
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