William Revelle Professor

Program Area(s):

Personality and Health; Clinical


Personality measurement, theory and research

Research Interests

The study of personality is the last refuge of the generalist in psychology. As such, my interests in personality theory include the biological basis of personality and motivation, psychometric theory, the structure of daily mood and models of attention and memory.

Recent work in the Personality, Motivation, and Cognition Laboratory has focused on the interactive effects of personality (e.g., impulsivity, trait anxiety) and situational determinants of motivation (e.g., time-of-day, caffeine, films, monetary incentives, exercise) as they combine to influence motivational states (energetic and tense arousal), and how these motivational states in turn affect cognitive processes (sustained attention, working-memory capacity, long-term memory) to determine cognitive performance. The long term goal is to develop a better understanding of how individual differences interact with situational moderators to affect efficient information processing.

Additional work in personality theory has focused on the personality characteristics associated with differential sensitivities to cues for reward and punishment. Current work is being done on the personality and situational determinants of affective state and dimensional analyses of affect.

My students and I have taken advantage of the popularity of the Personality Project, an attempt to bring information about current personality theory and research to the readers of the World Wide Web, by collecting data using “Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment” (SAPA) techniques.  With SAPA technology we are exploring the structure of temperament, ability and interests from data collected at the Personlity Project and  The SAPA Project.

For the past 10 years I have been developing the “psych” package for the open source statistical analysis system, R, as well as tutorials in the use of R in psychology. The psych package is a general purpose toolbox for personality, psychometrics and experimental psychology. Functions are primarily for multivariate analysis and scale construction using factor analysis, principal component analysis, cluster analysis and reliability analysis, although others provide basic descriptive statistics. Item Response Theory is done using factor analysis of tetrachoric and polychoric correlations. Functions for analyzing data at multi-levels include within and between group statistics, including correlations and factor analysis. Functions for simulating particular item and test structures are included. Several functions serve as a useful front end for structural equation modeling. Graphical displays of path diagrams, factor analysis and structural equation models are created using basic graphics. Some of the functions are written to support a book on psychometrics as well as publications in personality research. For more information, see the personality-project.org/r webpage.

Selected Publications

Revelle, W. and Condon, D. M. (2015). A model for personality at three levels. Journal of Research in Personality, 56:70–81

Condon, D. M. and Revelle, W. (2014). The International Cognitive Ability Resource: Development and initial validation of a public domain measure. Intelligence, 43:52–64

Smillie, L. D., Wilt, J., Kabbani, R., Garratt, C., and Revelle, W. (2015). Quality of social experience explains the relation between extraversion and positive affect. Emotion, 15(3):339–349

Revelle, W. and Wilt, J. (2013). The general factor of personality: A general critique. Journal of Research in Personality, 47(5):493–504

Wilt, J. and Revelle, W. (2014). Extraversion. In Widiger, T., editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Five Factor Model. Oxford University Press (in press), New York, N.Y