Saturday, June 25, 2022

About 11pct of participants evaluated their conscientiousness as adequate, 75pct thought it was "too high" (?!)

Too little, just right or too much? Assessing how people evaluate their conscientiousness levels. Sofie Dupré et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 197, October 2022, 111789.

Abstract: Recent advances in personality theory and research have led to the introduction of the “Too-much-of-a-good-thing-effect” in the relationship between conscientiousness and desirable outcomes, challenging the “more is better” idea that has been dominating research on this trait for a long time. Thus, the question arises as to how people evaluate their conscientiousness levels themselves, more specifically, whether they regard their trait levels as “too little”, “the right amount”, or “too much”. The current study describes how an existing personality inventory can be adjusted to explore such evaluations of conscientiousness levels by incorporating a too little/too much response format. The structural characteristics of this new assessment approach are examined and compared against responses that are collected using a traditional Likert rating format asking people to describe themselves. Results show that – in this sample (N = 367) – about 11 % of participants evaluated their conscientiousness as adequate, whereas the majority (75 %) indicated it to be too high. Further, the “right amount” of conscientiousness was most frequently associated with a 7 on a 9-point Likert scale, while very high Likert-scale ratings of 9 were regarded as “too much” in over three-fourth of the ratings. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.


High conscientiousness is a reliable correlate of multiple desirable outcomes in different areas of people's lives, such as physical and psychological well-being (Friedman, Kern, & Reynolds, 2010), academic success (Mammadov, 2021), and work performance (Wilmot & Ones, 2019). Although these conscientiousness-outcome relations have been deemed positive and linear in most research (i.e., “more is better”), contradictory evidence from recent lines of theoretical and empirical work indicates that there may be such a thing as being too conscientious (e.g., Carter et al., 2014; Carter, Guan, Maples, Williamson, & Miller, 2016; Denissen et al., 2018; Le et al., 2011). This phenomenon – also referred to as the “Too-much-of-a-good-thing-effect” (TMGT effect; Pierce & Aguinis, 2013) – raises the question how people feel about or evaluate their conscientiousness levels. While current personality assessment instruments provide valuable insights into people's positions on the underlying trait dimension, they cannot capture such evaluations (i.e., whether people regard their trait levels as “too little”, “the right amount”, or “too much”). The current study is a first effort to explore how people evaluate their conscientiousness levels by introducing the too little/too much rating scale (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2005) in personality assessment.

Although the TMGT-effect manifests in different life domains (Pierce & Aguinis, 2013), evidence for this effect regarding conscientiousness has mainly been reported in the work setting, where curvilinear relationships have been demonstrated with various indicators of job performance. That is, several studies demonstrate that employees with moderate conscientiousness levels tend to perform better than those with very high levels (Carter et al., 2014; Denissen et al., 2018; Le et al., 2011). Highly conscientious employees may be so perfectionist that they waste time on unimportant details. Importantly, Le et al. (2011) found that higher levels of conscientiousness only become detrimental to performance in low-complexity jobs, which demonstrates the importance of the work context in explaining the nature of the curvilinear relationship. Similarly, Denissen et al. (2018) showed that high conscientiousness in employees has a detrimental effect on performance when conscientiousness exceeds the level their job demands, which provides further evidence for the significance of a good match between personality and the job context.

While the issue of curvilinearity has been mainly addressed in research on the conscientiousness-performance relationship, it is not exclusive to the work context. For example, Carter et al. (2016) found a similar trend in the relation between conscientiousness and psychological well-being. Taken together, these findings raise the possibility that people who report higher conscientiousness levels potentially experience these trait levels as a hindrance in life, and may feel that lower levels are more desirable.

For decades, psychologists have been in pursuit of valid and reliable ways to assess people's personality, but despite the emergence of a multitude of instruments, none have aimed to capture the way people evaluate their reported trait levels. While Likert scales are designed to grasp the person's actual position on the underlying trait, they are not intended to reveal discrepancies between actual trait levels and desired trait levels. For example, people who rate themselves as highly conscientious on a Likert scale may regard these levels as either adequate or potentially “too high”. Similarly, people with lower Likert-scale rated levels are not necessarily dissatisfied with these levels. Previous efforts have been made toward better operationalizing potential adaptive and maladaptive functioning at both poles of a trait dimension, such as the Five Factor Form (FFF) and the Sliderbar Inventory (SI) (Rojas & Widiger, 2018). However, like the Likert scale, these scales are still aimed at – more accurately – describing people's trait levels.

Similar remarks were made previously by Kaiser and Kaplan (2005), who aimed to assess deficiency and/or excess in leadership behavior. In their study, they suggested a new rating scale format: the too little/too much rating scale, ranging from −4 (too little) to 0 (the right amount) and +4 (too much) (Kaiser & Kaplan, 2005). The usefulness of this scale lies in its ability to tap into perceived overdoing or underdoing, which are areas of functioning not captured by the Likert scale rating format. In the current study, our goal is to introduce this scale in personality assessment to explore employees' evaluations of their conscientiousness levels.

The current study presents the development and validation of a personality instrument that focuses on mapping people's evaluations of their conscientiousness levels (“too much”, “too little”, or “the right amount”) rather than the actual conscientiousness levels (1 = very low; 9 = very high). The characteristics of this instrument will be investigated in two ways. First, the factor structure of the TLTM-rated version will be compared to that of the traditional Likert-rated version of the instrument. Second, associations between ratings on TLTM- and Likert- versions of the instrument will be investigated to build an understanding of how people evaluate different conscientiousness trait levels.

There is no empirical justification for declaring believers in the paranormal to be crazy

Variations in Well-Being as a Function of Paranormal Belief and Psychopathological Symptoms: A Latent Profile Analysis. Neil Dagnall et al. Front. Psychol., June 24 2022 |

Abstract: This study examined variations in well-being as a function of the interaction between paranormal belief and psychopathology-related constructs. A United Kingdom-based, general sample of 4,402 respondents completed self-report measures assessing paranormal belief, psychopathology (schizotypy, depression, manic experience, and depressive experience), and well-being (perceived stress, somatic complaints, and life satisfaction). Latent profile analysis identified four distinct sub-groups: Profile 1, high Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology (n = 688); Profile 2, high Paranormal Belief and Unusual Experiences; moderate Psychopathology (n = 800); Profile 3, moderate Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology (n = 846); and Profile 4, low Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology (n = 2070). Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) found that sub-groups with higher psychopathology scores (Profiles 1 and 3) reported lower well-being. Higher Paranormal Belief, however, was not necessarily associated with lower psychological adjustment and reduced well-being (Profile 2). These outcomes indicated that belief in the paranormal is not necessarily non-adaptive, and that further research is required to identify the conditions under which belief in the paranormal is maladaptive.


Emergent subgroups reflected subtle variations in paranormal belief and psychopathology, which were associated with differences on well-being measures. Specifically, Profile 1 (high Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology) indexed lower well-being in comparison with the other profiles (Profile 2–4). Contrastingly, Profile 4 (low Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology) evidenced greater well-being vs. the other profiles (Profiles 1–3). Profile 3 (moderate Paranormal Belief and Psychopathology) indexed lower well-being than Profile 2 (high Paranormal Belief and Unusual Experiences; moderate Psychopathology), suggesting that belief in the paranormal is not necessarily contributory to psychological adjustment. Additionally, results indicated that believers are a heterogenous rather than homogeneous population.

Zero-order correlations were consistent with preceding research. Paranormal Belief demonstrated a similar pattern of associations with O-LIFEshort subscales to those reported by Dagnall et al. (2016c). Particularly, Paranormal Belief was most strongly related to Unusual Experiences, correlated with Cognitive Disorganisation and Impulsive Non-conformity, but was not significantly associated with Introvertive Anhedonia. These outcomes correspond to general dimensional models of schizotypy (Kwapil et al., 2008). For instance, they are consistent with the distinction between positive (i.e., unusual experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and magical thinking) and negative (i.e., withdrawal and attenuated ability to experience pleasure) factors.

The positive association between Introvertive Anhedonia and Paranormal Belief is explained by the fact that negative features reflect the tendency to gain less satisfaction from engaging in effortful and deliberative thought (Broyd et al., 2019). Thus, in comparison to positive schizotypy, which is associated with the production of unusual experiences, perceptions, beliefs and magical thinking, negative schizotypy is less cognitive (Broyd et al., 2019). This, in part, explains why positive characteristics are conducive to the generation and maintenance of paranormal beliefs, whereas negative features are unlikely to directly influence supernatural credence. Future research is required to assess the extent to which differences in cognitive engagement influence belief in the paranormal.

Examination of profiles indicated that belief and psychopathological factors interacted in complex ways. Respondents high in Paranormal Belief were differentiated by elevated global (Profile 1) vs. specific (Unusual Experiences) (Profile 2) Psychopathology scores. The presence of a profile characterised by high Unusual Experiences aligns with Loughland and Williams (1997). The Unusual Experiences subscale reflects mainly positive schizotypal characteristics such as perceptual distortions and magical thinking, which align with the reality distortion syndrome of positive schizophrenic symptoms (Liddle, 1987Loughland and Williams, 1997). Perceptual distortions represent an attenuated form of hallucination, and magical thinking signifies weaker type delusional thoughts.

In the present study, Profile 2 attributes were associated with higher levels of well-being than the global high (Profile 1) and moderate psychological adjustment (Profile 3) subgroups. This suggests that high Paranormal Belief is not necessarily concomitant with lower psychological adjustment and reduced well-being. Although, caution is required when drawing comparison with Loughland and Williams (1997), since they used agglomerative hierarchical clustering rather than LPA, and their analysis considered only schizotypy.

Despite this caveat, the presence of differing high belief profiles has important implications for subsequent research as they are differentially associated with well-being. The presence of a Paranormal sub-group with relatively low Psychopathology scores is consistent with the high levels of supernatural endorsement observed in general populations. It also aligned with the notion that paranormal beliefs in non-clinical samples represent non-psychotic delusions (Irwin et al., 2012a,b). In this context, beliefs often arise from reality testing deficits where individuals fail to adequately assess the validity of propositions and the evidence from which they derive (Dagnall et al., 2015Drinkwater et al., 2020). Thus, beliefs alone reflect thinking style preferences rather than variations in psycholopathology.

Using LPA to study paranormal belief and psychopathology is conceptually significant because the method recognises that individuals because of life history vary on both constructs. This is important as paranormal belief and psychopathology may concurrently influence psychological adjustment and well-being. Hence, identifying differing profiles advances knowledge in terms of appreciating how specific combinations of paranormal belief and psychopathology relate to well-being. In this instance, demonstrating that although higher Paranormal Belief and psychopathology generally relate to lower well-being, high Paranormal Belief is not inevitably attendant with poorer psychological functioning and lower well-being.

This conclusion is consistent with related work postulating the existence of happy or benign schizotypes. That is, individuals who experience psychotic-like experiences as rewarding and enhancing. These are individuals, who (in relation to the population means) score extremely high on the positive characteristics, but below average on negative and cognitive/disorganised factors (see Claridge, 2018Grant and Hennig, 2020).


A limitation concerns the relative distributions of Paranormal Belief and psychopathology-related scores. Explicitly, Paranormal Belief exhibited greater variation compared with psychopathology measures such as schizotypy. Though schizotypy sum totals were analogous to established norms (Mason et al., 2005), range restriction existed because participants came from a non-clinical, general population. In addition, differences existed as a function of the number of items per measure (e.g., Paranormal Belief 26-items vs. Unusual Experiences 12-items). While scaled means were utilised to minimise this (which is advocated with LPA; Uckelstam et al., 2019), high scores on variables should be interpreted as relative rather than absolute.

Moreover, recoding continuous data to create meaningful profiles can lead to information loss (Lanza and Rhoades, 2013). The profiles in this study were statistically and conceptually meaningful, however, it is necessary to guard against reification. Particularly, LPA profiles relate to heterogeneity across a model’s variables, not subtypes of individuals in the population (Lanza and Rhoades, 2013). Too few or too many profiles can be identified through LPA, and it would be valuable for subsequent research to corroborate the current findings by replication and cross-validation (Collins et al., 1994).

Low fertility has persisted in Japan for decades; inactive sexual lives within intimate and committed relationships may be linked to sexual activity outside such relationships (casual sex)

Casual Sex and Sexlessness in Japan: A Cross-Sectional Study. Shoko Konishi et al. Sexes 2022, 3(2), 254-266; May 1 2022.

Abstract: Low fertility has persisted in Japan for decades. Sexless marriages may indirectly contribute to low fertility. Inactive sexual lives within intimate and committed relationships may be linked to sexual activity outside such relationships, called “casual sex”. This study aimed to explore the correlates of casual sex and sexlessness. A web-based questionnaire survey was conducted among married and single men (n = 4000) aged 20–54 years in Japan. Sexlessness were reported by 56% of men, whereas 11% had had casual sex and 31% had had non-casual sex (with spouse, fiancĂ©, or girlfriends/boyfriends) in the last month. Among married men, higher income and long working hours were positively associated with casual sex. Regarding never-married men: those with lower educational status and without full-time jobs were more likely to report casual sex, those in rural areas were more likely to be sexless than those in urban and suburban areas, and those with depression were more likely to be sexless than those without depression. Matching app use was strongly associated with casual sex among married and never-married men, suggesting that such tools may facilitate sexual activity outside committed and intimate relationships. Sexual behavior is closely linked to one’s social and economic environment and health status. View Full-Text

Keywords: Asia; geographic factors; health; Japan; male; marriage; sexual behavior; social networking; socioeconomic status