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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Reinout E. de Vries,. Department of Social .... control scales and the Five-Factor scales (left side) and HEXACO scales (right side) for Study. 1 (upper part) and Study 2 (lower part) are reported. .... Personality pathways to impulsive behavior and ther relations to ...

RUNNING HEAD: Personality and Self-Control

Tales of two Self-Control Scales: Relations with Five-Factor and HEXACO Traits

Reinout E. de Vries† VU University Amsterdam Jean-Louis van Gelder Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)

Published as: De Vries, R.E. & Van Gelder, J.L. (2013). Tales of two self-control scales: Relations with Five-Factor and HEXACO traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 756-760.

VU University Amsterdam

Department of Social and Organizational Psychology Van der Boechorststraat 1 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands tel: +31-20-5988718 e-mail: [email protected]

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Reinout E. de Vries, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, e-mail: [email protected]

Personality and Self-Control


Tales of two Self-Control Scales: Relations with Five-Factor and HEXACO Traits


This study compared the Five-Factor and HEXACO personality correlates of two common self-control constructs – Tangney self-control and Grasmick self-control – and their relations with delinquency. In both a student and a community sample, conscientiousness (mainly the prudence facet) was the most consistent and strongest correlate of both constructs. HEXACO honesty-humility was an important correlate of Grasmick self-control but not of Tangney selfcontrol. Additionally, honesty-humility (mainly the fairness facet) was the most consistent predictor of delinquency, whereas the two self-control scales differed in the extent to which they predicted delinquency across samples.

Keywords: Delinquency, Self-Control, Big Five, Five-Factor Model, HEXACO, Conscientiousness, Honesty-Humility

Personality and Self-Control


Self-control is among the most widely studied constructs in the social sciences (Duckworth, 2011). This is not without reason; lack of self-control has been implicated in a wide variety of important life outcomes, such as poor health, teenage pregnancy, financial problems, drug abuse, and delinquency, even when controlling for intelligence and socioeconomic background (Moffitt et al., 2011). In spite of widespread scholarly interest in different disciplines such as psychology, behavioral economics, and criminology, and its pervasive influence on the lives of people, there is a lack of consensus regarding the nature of self-control and its relations with more general dimensions of personality. According to Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), for example, people low in self-control are predisposed to engage in irresponsible behaviors because of a (learned) preference to respond to tangible, physical, and exciting stimuli in the immediate environment, a lack of tenacity and tolerance when facing frustrations, and an indifference to the needs and sufferings of others. In contrast, Tangney, Baumeister and Boone (2004) define self-control as the “ability to override or change one’s inner responses, as well as to interrupt undesired behavioral tendencies (such as impulses) and refrain from acting on them” (p. 274). Whereas the Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) conceptualization locates self-control in a set of different – but purportedly related – traits, Tangney et al. (2004) specifically locate it in theories on self-regulation, whereby the self is able to override its impulses and alter its moods, emotions, and behaviors. This difference in conceptualization may be reflected in the different traits that have been linked to self-control. Self-control has been associated with conscientiousness alone (O’Gorman & Baxter, 2002), with a combination of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability (Olson, 2005; Tangney, et al., 2004), with sensation-seeking (Mishra & Lalumière, 2011), and with psychopathy (Jonason & Tost, 2010). Although both sensationseeking and psychopathy have been related to conscientiousness, sensation-seeking has also

Personality and Self-Control


been found to be related to openness to experience and extraversion (De Vries, De Vries, & Feij, 2009), whereas psychopathy has been found to be related to (low) honesty-humility, (low) emotionality, and (low) agreeableness (De Vries, Lee, & Ashton, 2008; De Vries & Van Kampen, 2010; Lee & Ashton, 2005). Consequently, although conscientiousness appears to be a central element of self-control, all of the other main personality dimensions have – in one study or another – also been implicated as correlates of self-control. Self-control has been found to be an important and consistent predictor of delinquency (Pratt & Cullen, 2000), but there is a lack of studies comparing the effects of self-control on delinquency with the effects of traits from general models of personality. Several Five-Factor traits, i.e. (low) conscientiousness, neuroticism (low emotional stability), and (low) agreeableness have been shown to be correlates of delinquency (Caspi, et al., 1994; Eysenk, 1977; Lynam, 2002; Miller & Lynam, 2001). In the HEXACO model, which posits six instead of five fundamental personality dimensions (Ashton et al., 2004), the main correlate of delinquency is honesty-humility (Lee, Ashton, & De Vries, 2005; Van Gelder & De Vries, 2012). It is unclear, however, whether any Five-Factor or HEXACO personality variables are able to offer incremental validity in the prediction of delinquency beyond self-control. Consequently, the present study sets out to answer the following questions: 1) what are the main personality correlates of self-control and 2) to what extend do the main personality dimensions, and especially honesty-humility, offer incremental validity beyond self-control in the prediction of delinquency. We do so using a) two common conceptualizations of self-control: one developed by Grasmick, Tittle, Bursik and Arneklev (1993) and based on Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) ‘General Theory of Crime’, which we will call ‘Grasmick Self-Control’, and another rooted in psychological research, which we will call ‘Tangney Self-Control’ (Tangney et al., 2004), and b) two broad-bandwidth conceptualizations of personality, the Five-Factor model and the HEXACO model.

Personality and Self-Control


Method Samples and procedures Study 1. In this study, 775 undergraduate Psychology and Education students from two consecutive years, who had filled out a personality assessment as part of a course requirement, were sent an email invitation to participate in a follow-up study. In total, 133 (11 men, 122 women; 15% response rate) with a mean age of 19.96 years (SD=2.22) agreed to participate in this study using a web survey. Of these, 72 students (54%) had filled out the personality assessment 3 months prior to the present study and 61 students (46%) had done so 15 months prior to it. In exchange for participation, respondents were entered in a raffle for one of two €100 gift certificates. Study 2. A total of 1,377 members of a large-scale internet research panel, for whom personality data were available, were approached through email. This community sample is representative of the Dutch adult population in terms of age, gender, education, and province of residence. Of all panel members targeted, 51% completed the web-based survey. This sample consisted of 709 adults (376 (53%) women) between 19 and 88 years old (M=50.88, SD=14.36). As in Study 1, data were gathered over two waves; personality data were gathered 1.5 years prior to the self-control and delinquency data.1 Instruments Grasmick and Tangney Self-Control. Both the 24-item ‘Grasmick Self-Control’ scale (Grasmick, Tittle, Bursik, and Arneklev, 1993) and the 13-item ‘Tangney Self-Control’ scale (Tangney et al., 2004) were forward and backward translated to create Dutch versions of these scales. The alpha reliabilities of both self-control scales were >.80 (Table 1). Five Factor Marker Scales (Study 1). From the original Dutch lexical personality study (De Raad, Hendriks, & Hofstee, 1992; see also De Vries, Ashton, & Lee, 2009), the 30 highest loading adjectives of each of the main five factors were extracted and presented to

Personality and Self-Control


students using a four-point (0=strongly disagree – 3=strongly agree) scale. Alpha reliabilities ranged from .84 for Intellect to .93 for Extraversion. 5DPT (Study 2). The 5-Dimensional Personality Test (5DPT; Coolidge et al., 2008; De Vries & Van Kampen, 2010; Van Kampen, 2009) consists of 20 dichotomous (yes-no) items for each of the five factor scales, which have been found to converge (all convergent r’s > .55) with the NEO-FFI (Van Kampen, 2012). In this study, all alpha reliabilities exceeded .83. HEXACO-PI-R. The (Dutch version of the) revised HEXACO Personality Inventory (Ashton and Lee, 2008; De Vries, Ashton, & Lee, 2009) consists of 200 items divided among the following six domain scales, Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, eXtraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to experience, each of which consists of four facets, plus an additional (interstitial) facet, named Altruism. All of the alpha reliabilities of the HEXACO-PI-R factor scales were .84 or higher. In both studies, some differences in HEXACO personality were observed between the first and second wave (remaining) respondents. Specifically, in the student sample, students who participated in the second wave were slightly higher on Honesty-Humility (M2=3.70 (SD2=.50) versus M1=3.57 (SD1=.48); t=2.89, p