The H Factor of Personality: Why Some People Are Manipulative, Self-Entitled, Materialistic, and Exploitive - And Why It Matters for Everyone

The H Factor of Personality: Why Some People Are Manipulative, Self-Entitled, Materialistic, and Exploitive - And Why It Matters for Everyone

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by Kibeom Lee, Michael C. Ashton

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The “H” in the H factor stands for “Honesty-Humility,” and it’s one of only six basic dimensions of personality. People who have high levels of H are sincere and modest; people who have low levels are deceitful and pretentious. It isn’t intuitively obvious that traits of honesty and humility go hand in hand, and until very


The “H” in the H factor stands for “Honesty-Humility,” and it’s one of only six basic dimensions of personality. People who have high levels of H are sincere and modest; people who have low levels are deceitful and pretentious. It isn’t intuitively obvious that traits of honesty and humility go hand in hand, and until very recently the H factor hadn’t been recognized as a personality dimension. But scientific evidence shows that honesty and humility belong to a unified group of personality characteristics, separate from five other groups identified several decades ago.

This book, written by the discoverers of the H factor, explores the importance of this personality dimension in various aspects of people’s lives: their approaches to money, power, and sex; their inclination to commit crimes or obey the law; their attitudes about society, politics, and religion; and their choice of friends and spouse. Finally, the book provides ways of identifying people who are low in the H factor, as well as advice on how to raise one’s own level of H.

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Wilfrid Laurier University Press
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Meet the Author

Kibeom Lee is a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario and was formerly a lecturer at the University of Western Australia. He is the author of many scientific articles on personality and industrial/organizational psychology.

Michael C. Ashton is a professor of psychology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of the textbook Individual Differences and Personality and of many scientific articles on personality psychology.

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The H Factor of Personality: Why Some People Are Manipulative, Self-Entitled, Materialistic, and Exploitive-And Why It Matters for Everyone 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
An_Appreciative_Reader More than 1 year ago
Finally, A Personality Model That Isn't Afraid Of The Dark The Myers-Briggs model doesn't have it. The Five Factor model doesn't have it. The Enneagram model doesn't have it. The StrengthsFinder doesn't have it. The DISC and the Social Style Model don't have it. What is "it"? "It" is the personality theory equivalent of the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but no one wants to talk about. "It" is the factor of Honesty-Humility--the "H factor"--the low pole of which underlies deceit, greed, psychopathy, and narcissism. As Ashton and Lee explain, the H factor influences "people's approaches to money, power and sex. It governs their inclination to commit crimes or obey the law. It orients them to certain attitudes about society, politics and religion. It influences their choice of friends and spouse." It can help us understand why some CEOs turn their companies into their personal piggy banks, and why some people are more likely than others to cheat on their spouses or partners. How could such an important aspect of personality fall through the cracks? Well, for models such as the Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder, its absence is understandable because the creators of these models made a conscious decision to focus on the positive aspects of personality. But when it comes to the model that is currently the most widely used by personality researchers, the "Five Factor model" (also known as the "Big Five") the explanation is not so simple. The Five Factor model breaks personality down into five factors (each of which are composed of six subtraits or facets) that are seen as the "primary colors" from which each unique personality is created. The first letters of what are known as the "Big Five" factors form the mnemonic "OCEAN": Openness to Experience (creative versus conventional); Conscientiousness (disciplined versus disorganized); Extraversion (outgoing versus withdrawn); Agreeableness (gentle versus harsh); and, Neuroticism (anxious versus calm). The first two chapters of the book provide a brief introduction to the Five Factor model and explain how Ashton and Lee discovered the missing sixth factor--the "H Factor"--thanks to some powerful computing power and data obtained from non-English speaking countries. Chapter 3 describes a model that Ashton and Lee have created that they have named the HEXACO personality model. The HEXACO model is complementary to the Five Factor model. It retains the Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience factors of the Five Factor model. The major changes are that it adds the Honesty/Humility factor and replaces the "Neuroticism" factor with an "Emotionality" factor. In the HEXACO model "anger" related traits are located under the low pole of Agreeableness and not under Neuorticism as in the Five Factor model. (In the HEXACO the "X" stands for "eXtraversion" ). Relying on research conducted around the world using the HEXACO model and the HEXACO Personality Inventory, the remaining, very readable chapters, explore the practical, day to day, implications of seeing Honesty/Humility as a key component of human personality. The value of any model is how well it explains and describes things in the real world. While the model is built on solid science, the real value of the HEXACO model for me is that it explains so much about human behavior that was previously a puzzle: Chapter 4 "A Field Guide to Low-H People Chapter 5 "Can You Tell Someone's Level of H?" Chapter 6 "Do High-H People Flock Together?" Chapter 7 "Politics" Chapter 8 "Religion" Chapter 9 "Money, Power, Sex" Chapter 10 "How To Identify Low-H People--And How To Live Around Them" Epilogue "On Becoming A High-H Person" Appendix "HEXACO Personality Inventory--Revised" (self-assessment) I first became acquainted with the HEXACO when I was doing research on narcissism and psychopathy in corporate and other leaders. I noticed that few of the researchers in this area were using the Five Factor model, but were instead using specialized assessments for measuring narcissism and psychopathy. The Five Factor model model and its traits did not appear to lend themselves to a straightforward analysis of some of the most important problems facing society today: greed, deceit and manipulation. Moreover, I noticed that neither psychopathy or narcissism could be readily modeled using the Five Factor Model. (Some Five Factor advocates would say that these can be derived from a combination of Big Five subtraits, but even if that is true the Five Factor model does not give Honesty and Humility the focus and prominence suggested by the data.) Since the Five Factor model is being increasingly used as a work-place assessment and model for coaching, I was concerned about the implications of these omissions. If H isn't considered a key factor, how are prospective leaders with narcissistic or psychopathic traits being screened out? If low Agreeableness is seen as a positive leadership trait as it is in some Five Factor oriented leadership models, what are the implications of this, especially since very low Agreeableness has been correlated with psychopathy? I was very pleasantly surprised when I first found out about Ashton and Lee's published research on the HEXACO. It resolved the questions I had about modeling the darker traits involved in the abuses of power that take such a painful toll of society. I was also pleased to learn that the model is consistent with research on cooperative behavior and altruism. Specifically, the origins of the Honesty/Humility factor as well as the HEXACO Agreeableness factor can be found in "reciprocal altruism" and the origins of HEXACO's Emotionality factor can be found in "kinship altruism." The constructs of reciprocal and kinship altruism have strong explanatory power and links the HEXACO to important research in the social sciences and evolutionary psychology. The HEXACO's emphasis on the role of altruism and cooperation also creates an important link to the research in positive psychology. Finally, by replacing Neuroticism with Emotionality, HEXACO highlights "empathy" as fundamental to human personality. Carl Jung would say that we really don't understand ourselves until we have explored our shadows. By more fully modeling both the dark and light of personality, the HEXACO does a much better job than the Five Factor model at assessing the traits that are at the core of many of our economic, social, and personal problems. While it offers tools for looking at these dark traits, it also offers a way to understand the best in human nature. On the other side of deceit and greed are honesty, humility and empathy. While creativity, self-discipline, sociability, agreeableness, and calm may be desirable traits, it is honesty, humility and empathy that truly define character. By adding H and E as distinct top level factors, personality development becomes character development. With the inclusion of H and E a bridge has been erected and suddenly we are talking about virtues and ethics as well as personality. No model can do it all. The HEXACO is a "lexical model" of personality. That means that it is a model built from the way people use language to describe personality traits in others. The assumption is that language captures most of all relevant personality traits. But as the statistician George Box famously said: "Essentially all models are wrong, but some are useful." The HEXACO, like all lexical models, is an abstract verbal model, and it is no substitute for the richly complex and dynamic system that is the "person." That said, I like the HEXACO model because it fits in well with other models that take a different perspective, including those from the social sciences, evolutionary psychology, and the brain sciences. I also like the way the chapter on politics complements important work being done by Jonathan Haidt on the psychology of conservatives and liberals. Finally, I like the way the chapter on religion is not dismissive of religion but distinguishes low H from high H religious practices and teachings and acknowledges the value of those that are high H. A model focuses our attention on certain features of reality and hides other features from our view. By giving emphasis to honesty, humility, empathy, and altruism the HEXACO model directs our awareness to these traits and reminds us of their critical importance. The HEXACO model was introduced over ten years ago. Given the social, political, economic, and other problems that have been created in part by low H people, one would think that a model that helped us identify this factor in others would be embraced with open, high E, arms. So why hasn't the HEXACO become the primary lexical model used by personality researchers? I suspect that many research scientists have yet to be introduced to the HEXACO and hopefully this book will change that. But it may also be because many research scientists have so much invested in the Five Factor model that the resistance to modifying it is very, very strong. Imagine what it would take for a Five Factor model advocate to say that he or she was wrong; to admit that the Five Factor model doesn't do a good job at assessing for narcissism and psychopathy at the factor level; to acknowledge that the data are best explained by adding H and E factors; to acknowledge that "anger" related traits are better seen as aspects of the low pole of Agreeableness than as traits under Neuroticism; to admit that the Honesty/Humility, Agreeableness and Emotionality factors directly align with the well-established sociobiological principles of reciprocal and kinship altruism; and to acknowledge the key roles played by honesty, humility, empathy, and altruism in the human personality? Ironically, it would take the "H factor."