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Paul Costa

Departmental Affiliations

School of Medicine

Contact Info

852 Hampton House 624 North Broadway

Research Interests

Personality, Assessment, Revised NEO Personality Inventory; Five-Factor Model, Personality Disorders, Longitudinal Studies, Personality Plasticity,

Experiences & Accomplishments

Prof. Costa’s enduring interests are in the structure and measurement of personality and the Five-Factor Model of Personality and specifically, the NEO Inventories which he developed with Robert McCrae. The Five Factor Model: Personality is central to understanding the individual person, and it influences, to some degree, nearly all aspects of experience and functioning in everyday life. A major obstacle to progress in personality psychology for many decades was the inability of psychologists to agree on taxonomy of traits that would offer a comprehensive yet manageable set of trait constructs. Since 1983, Costa’s research  has contributed to a worldwide consensus that the Five-Factor Model points to such taxonomy. The broad factors of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness appear to encompass most specific traits, and offer a framework for systematic literature reviews and research designs. Personality psychology has made striking advances and breakthroughs in the past two decades. Today there is a real science of personality psychology—an organized and growing body of knowledge—in the form of a generally accepted model of personality traits. These traits are rooted in biology, endure in adulthood, and influence an extraordinary range of psychological outcomes. My research is organized around the Five-Factor Model of personality (FFM) and broadly, the goals are to employ this comprehensive structural model of personality to investigate basic questions concerning aging and human development.

   My other research interests include health psychology—Compliance and disease progression in AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Predictors and Prognosis, Axis I and II mental disorders, and the neurobiology and molecular genetics of personality.


Honors & Awards

Elected to Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology.

President, Division on Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics, Division 5 of the APA.

Arthur Staats Award Winner Address on Unifying Psychology at the 112th Annual APA Convention, Title of Lecture: FFM and the FFT:

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Committee on Twins Study

Distinguished Contribution Award, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging, APA)

Elected President of Association for Research in Personality

NIH Director’s Award

President, International Society for the Study of Individual Differences

Who’s Who in the World

American Men and Women of Science Elected to Academy of Behavioral Medicine and Research Fellow, Division 5 (Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics), American Psychological Association

Select Publications
Revent articles on the FFM and the NEO Inventories and some GWAS sgtudies
  • Costa, P.T., Jr., and McCrae, R.R.: The NEO Inventories. In: Archer, R.P. and Smith, S.R. (Eds.): A Guide to Personality Assessment: Evaluation, Application, and Integration. Mahwah, NJ, Erlbaum, in press.
  • Costa, P.T., Jr. and McCrae, R.R.: Approaches derived from philosophy and psychology. In: Sadock, B.J., Sadock, V.A., and Ruiz, P. (Eds.):  Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th edition. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, in press.
  • Costa, P.T., Jr., and McCrae, R.R. The Five-Factor Model and the NEO Inventories. In: Butcher, J.M. (Ed.): Oxford Handbook Of Personality And Clinical Assessment. New York, Oxford University Press, in press.
  •  de Moor MHM, Costa PT Jr., Terracciano A, Krueger RF, de Geus EJC, Tanaka T, Penninx BWJH, Esko T, Madden PAF, Derringer J, Amin N, Willemsen G, Hottenga JJ, Distel MA, Uda M, Sanna S, Spinhoven P, Hartman CA, Sullivan P, Realo A, Allik J, Heath AC, Pergadia ML, Agrawal A, Lin P, Grucza R, Nutile T, Ciullo M, Rujescu D, Giegling I, Konte B, Widen E, Cousminer DL, Eriksson JG, Palotie A, Peltonen L,  Luciano M, Tenesa A, Davies G, Lopez LM, Hansell NK, Medland SE, Ferrucci L, Schlessinger D, Montgomery GW, Wright MJ, Aulchenko YS, Janssens ACJW, Oostra BA, Metspalu A, Abecasis GR,  Deary IJ, Räikkönen K, Bierut LJ, Martin NG, van Duijn CM, & Boomsma DI.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for personality. Molecular Psychiatry (in press)
  •  Costa, P.T., Jr., Rolland, J-P., De Fruyt, F., De Clercq, B., and McCrae, R.R.: La modèle á Cinq Facteurs et l'utilisation du NEO-PI-R en practique psychiatrique [The Five-Factor Model and the use of the NEO-PI-R in psychiatric practice]. In: Guelfi, J. D. & Rouillon, F.  (Eds.): Psychiatrie de l'adulte et de l'adolescent. Paris, France, Masson Éditeur, in press