Oliver P. John
3323 Tolman Hall
Ph.D., University of Oregon
Research Area: 
Accepting Students: 
Research Interests: 
Self-concept; self-perception accuracy and biases; personality development and assessment across the life span; emotion experience and expression; cultural differences
  • whatshotResearch Description

    Recipient of a 2002-03 L&S Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences

    Author of The Big Five Personality Test. For more information, please visit:

    Co-Principal Investigator, The Mills Longitudinal Study:The Mills Lab

    Most of my research can be thought of in terms of two interrelated programs of inquiry. Both programs examine the concepts and categories used to describe people. However, I have studied these concepts and categories from two perspectives--both from both the perspective of social psychology (traits as concepts people use to understand themselves and others) and from the perspective of personality psychology (traits as attributes of people). Thus, one of my research programs examines the ways in which individuals use social concepts to construe their own personalities (self-perception theory) and those of others (social perception; stereotyping), and the consequences that these construals have for their behaviors, experiences, and life outcomes. The second research program addresses fundamental issues in developing a scientific taxonomy of personality attributes; this work has focused on the major taxonomic model in personality theory and assessment--the Five Factor Model of personality.

    The first program of research has have contributed extensively to the literature on the social-cognitive processes underlying the use of personality concepts, especially principles of categorization such as hierarchy, basic level, prototypes, and automatic processing. Much of my work has focused on the way people use personality concepts, such as traits, states, emotions, and activities, and I have studied the structure, content, and processing of these concepts. Moreover, self-perceptions and social perceptions often have important consequences, both for people's own lives and those of others. For example, in research on the Five-Factor Model in adolescents, I have shown effects on such important outcome variables as juvenile delinquency, pathology, and school performance; in research on personality and self-concept structure in the Mills college sample, I have found that effects on well-being, depression, and other emotional problems persisted over several decades in the women's lives; in research on the accuracy of self-perception, we have found self-enhancement bias related to psychological maladjustment and narcissism; and in several studies of self- reports of emotional expressivity, we were able to predict emotion-expressive behavior, both in peer ratings and laboratory observations.

  • placeSelected Publications

    John, O. P. (1990). The "Big Five" factor taxonomy: Dimensions of personality in the natural language and in questionnaires. In L. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 66-100). New York: Guilford Press.

    John, O. P., Hampson, S. E., & Goldberg, L. R. (1991). The basic level in person ality-trait hierarchies: Studies of trait use and accessibility in different contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 348-361.

    Pratto, F., & John, O. P. (1991). Automatic vigilance: The attention-grabbing power of negative social information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 380-391.

    John, O. P., & Robins, R. W. (1994). Accuracy and bias in self-perception: Individual differences in self-enhancement and the role of narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 206-219.

    John, O. P., Caspi, A., Robins, R., Moffitt, T. E., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1994). The "Little Five": Exploring the nomological network of the five-factor model of personality in adolescent boys. Child Development, 65, 160-178.

    Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (in press). Revealing feelings: Facets of emotional expressivity in self-reports, peer ratings, and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    Robins, R. W., & John, O. P. (in press). The quest for self-insight: Theory and research on the accuracy of self-perception. In H. Hogan, J. Johnson, and S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality psychology. New York: Academic Press.

  • filter_dramaTeaching