In research on individual differences, various structural models aim at providing a comprehensive description of personality. These models assume multiple, mostly independent personality dimensions. More recently, the so-called General Factor of Personality (GFP) has become a proliferous, but contentious, topic. The notion of the GFP is based on the observations that personality dimensions are not independent, but in fact show consistent inter-correlations, leading to a relevant proportion of shared variance among them (Figueredo et al., 2006). The GFP seems to capture the socially desirable ends of personality scales, and, in terms of the Big Five model, high-GFP individuals score relatively high on openness, conscientiousness, extraversion (mainly the sociability-facet), agreeableness, and emotional stability (Rushton and Irwing, 2009; van der Linden et al., 2010a). Some authors have suggested that the GFP simply reflects methodological artifacts (Ashton et al., 2009; Backstrom et al., 2009; Hopwood et al., 2011b; Pettersson et al., 2012). However, much of this criticism has been addressed (Rushton and Erdle, 2010; Loehlin, 2012; Dunkel and van der Linden, 2014; van der Linden et al., 2014a). The objective of the present work is not to reiterate these issues, as they have been discussed extensively elsewhere (Irwing, 2013; van der Linden et al., 2016). Instead, we contend that criticism mostly offered within the specialty of personality psychology misses the bigger picture. More specific, evidence in favor of the GFP as a substantive and theoretically coherent construct has been provided in other research fields long before it became a contentious issue in personality psychology. Here we introduce two lines of evidence that may further corroborate the substantive interpretation of the GFP, specifically, findings from personality pathology as well as from animal personality. Looking at the GFP from a different perspective may help to overcome the current debates within personality psychology. In the following we will first briefly introduce work on the GFP and its theoretical foundation as social effectiveness. Afterwards we outline research from psychiatric nosology and animal ecology and discuss these in context.

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Keywords Animal personality, Ethology, Evolutionary biology, General factor of personality, Life history theory, Personality disorders, Personality pathology, Social effectiveness
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01771, hdl.handle.net/1765/102311
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Citation
Hengartner, M.P, van der Linden, D, & Dunkel, C.S. (2017). Establishing the substantive interpretation of the GFP by considering evidence from research on personality disorders and Animal Personality. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(OCT). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01771