The HEXACO Model of Personality
by Sarah Russin and David M Condon

While the Big Five/Five Factor Models (B5/FFM) of personality arguably get the most attention in the field, there are certainly other models that use more or fewer factors. The HEXACO model contains six dimensions of personality, including Honesty-Humility (H), Emotionality (E), Extraversion (X), Agreeableness (A), Conscientiousness (C), and Openness to Experience (O). At first glance it may appear that the only difference from the FFM is the addition of the Honesty-Humility dimension. However, Lee et al.[1] note that while three of the HEXACO-PI factor scales – specifically, Extraversion, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience - are very similar to the corresponding factors of the Big Five, the other three (Agreeableness, Emotionality, and of course, Honesty-Humility) are substantially different.

The HEXACO Personality Inventory website states that people who score high on the Honesty-Humility scale “avoid manipulating others for personal gain, feel little temptation to break rules, [and] are uninterested in lavish wealth and luxuries.” Those who score very low on this scale, however, tend to “flatter others to get what they want, are inclined to break rules for personal profit, are motivated by material gain, and feel a strong sense of self-importance.” This dimension also correlates strongly with other existing personality constructs involving exploitation and entitlement[1].

The other two factors – Emotionality and Agreeableness – share names with factors in the Big Five but have somewhat different operationalizations. Agreeableness in the HEXACO model differs by excluding sentimentality and including a lack of anger. Ashton and Lee[2] note that “the content of this six-dimensional variant (e.g., patience, gentleness, flexibility) is perhaps even more consistent with the name Agreeableness than is the content of the B5/FFM version (e.g., sympathy, gentleness, sentimentality)” (p. 152, Ashton & Lee, 2007). Emotionality, meanwhile, excludes the irritability and anger that is typically included in Emotional Stability/Neuroticism and includes items measuring courage and bravery[3]. The label Emotionality was chosen by Ashton and Lee on account of being less pejorative than Emotional Instability or Neuroticism[1].

It should also be noted that there exists a Big Six model of personality structure[4] that is not identical to the HEXACO. The labels for the Big Six factors are Conscientiousness, Honesty/Propriety, Agreeableness (Kindness & Even Temper), Resiliency versus Internalizing Negative Emotionality, Extraversion (Gregariousness and Positive Emotionality), and Originality/Talent. An excellent description of the differences between the HEXACO and Big Six models (as well as the differences between the Big Five and the Five Factor Model) can be found in Thalmayer, Saucier, & Eigenhuis[5].

How much do you know about your own personality? Interested in finding out more? Take our SAPA personality test and see where you fall on the Big Five distributions!

[1] Lee, K., Ashton, M. C., Morrison, D. L., Cordery, J., & Dunlop, P. D. (2008). Predicting integrity with the HEXACO personality model: Use of self- and observer reports. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81(1), 147-167.
[2] Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2007). Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(2), 150-166.
[3] Ashton, M. C., Lee, K., Perugini, M., Szarota, P., de Vries, R. E., Blas, L. D., Boies, K., De Raad, B. (2004). A six-factor structure of personality-descriptive adjectives: Solutions from psycholexical studies in seven languages. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 356–366.
[4] Saucier, G. (2009). Recurrent personality dimensions in inclusive lexical studies: Indications for a Big Six structure. Journal of Personality, 77(5), 1577-1614.
[5] Thalmayer, A. G., Saucier, G., & Eigenhuis, A. (2011). Comparative validity of brief to medium-length Big Five and Big Six personality questionnaires. Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 995–1009.

This page last modified on December 8th, 2016.