Self-Other Agreement For The Ratings Of Hexaco Traits


The self-other knowledge asymmetry model implies that motivational factors at the basis of self-ratings and other-ratings of personality traits distort the self-assessment of socially desirable personality traits. This leads in particular to more benevolent and precise other-ratings than self-ratings and can influence self-other agreement. This study investigated the degree of self-other agreement for HEXACO personality traits. Participants were university students and their friends of the same gender (300 pairs), who completed the Russian version of HEXACO-PI-R. Furthermore, the students had to complete the same inventory a second time, having been instructed to give the same answers they believe their friends have given. The results demonstrate no differences between Honesty–Humility, Emotionality, and Extraversion scores in the self-ratings of students and self- and other-ratings of friends. Students rate their own Agreeableness and Conscientiousness higher than their friends; however, they perceive their friends (other-ratings) to possess these traits to the same degree as themselves. For Openness to Experience, the situation is reversed: students believe their own openness (self-ratings) is higher than their friends (other-ratings), yet the self-ratings of the students and their friends do not differ for this trait. The intrapair similarity of the different ratings demonstrates that, firstly, students know their friends well; secondly, the students and their friends, to some degree, show similarity for all HEXACO traits other than Agreeableness; thirdly, the actual similarity between the students and their friends is lower than the students think. We did not observe an influence of observability and evaluatedness on self- and other-ratings.

Keywords: EvaluatednessHEXACO-PI-Rоbservabilityother-ratingspersonality traitsself-ratings


Studies of self-other agreement for personality traits are usually conducted for two purposes: firstly, in order to analyze convergent and divergent validity for questionnaires used to assess personality traits; and secondly, to investigate various interpersonal relationship phenomena (interpersonal perception patterns, conditions for the emergence of interpersonal attraction, satisfaction with close and work relationships, the likelihood of maintaining long-term relationships).

Studies that hold self-other agreement to be a prominent factor in interpersonal relationships have used a number of different theoretical frameworks. For instance, Brunswik’s lens model has been adapted for analyzing interpersonal perception (as cited in Zebrowitz & Collins, 1997); thus, the assessment of others is seen as a probability process under the condition of limited information. A lot of work has been done in the realm of understanding social projection and similarity-liking in the framework of the social-cognitive balance theory (Heider, 1958) Realistic Accuracy Model (RAM; Funder, 1995) assumes that both the individual performing the assessment of traits and the person being assessed are involved in the assessment. The concept of self-other knowledge asymmetry (SOKA) is based on the observation that different traits are assessed with different degree of accuracy when assessing the self (self-ratings) and assessing others (other-ratings) (Vazire, 2010).

The vast majority of studies, regardless of the theoretical model used by the authors, take into account moderating factors such as gender, age, degree of closeness, etc. However, the influence of moderating factors can be conflicting. For instance, the attempts to explain the agreement between self-ratings and other-ratings by the influence of such moderating factors as favorability of traits (their social desirability) or the evaluatedness of traits (the possibility of evaluating a trait as favorable or unfavorable) have produced ambiguous results. Early studies had shown a positive correlation between favorability (i.e. Funder & Colvin, 1988) and with self-other agreement for personality traits, while it was correlated negatively with evaluatedness (John & Robins, 1993). However, later, doubts were expressed both regarding the polarity and the fact of correlation itself (i.e. McDonald & Letzring, 2016; Paunonen & Kam, 2014; de Vries et al., 2016). In other words, there is general agreement that moderating factors are important for investigating self-other agreement, but that the essence of self-ratings and mutual ratings is complex.

Problem Statement

Self-other agreement has been studied to one or another degree for all basic personality trait structures (i.e. Costa & McCrae, 1992; de Vries et al., 2008). The assumption was that the degree of agreement was dependent on observability as a moderating factor. Not all personality traits manifest themselves in an individual’s behavior to the same degree and become apparent at different points in time; as a result, the accuracy of an external assessment will differ. The expectation was that sociability could be assessed rather accurately even for strangers and that it would correlate with the self-rating. At the same time, a trait such as neuroticism would become apparent only with passage of time, and thus the correlation between self- and other-ratings for Neuroticism will be observed only for individuals who know each other quite well.

Studies showed that, in fact, observability is a factor for many personality traits, and that similarity in Neuroticism and Openness to Experience varies most with the degree of closeness (de Vries et al., 2008; de Vries et al., 2016). However, it must be noted that there is also conflicting data. Thus, Neuroticism was the only Big Five trait that demonstrated self-other agreement in situations of true zero acquaintance (Brown, 2009). Still, the majority of studies have demonstrated correlations with the expected polarity.

For pairs of close acquaintances, given the combination of two moderation factors, observability and evaluatedness, the influence of observability becomes less obvious and the subject of more accurate assessment changes. Thus, given low evaluatedness, self-ratings will be more accurate (corresponding to objective assessment), while high evaluatedness leads to other-ratings being more precise (Vazire, 2010).

With these previous studies as a background, we reviewed three versions of ratings: self-ratings, self-ratings, ratings of the friend and ratings by the friend.

Research Questions

The aim of the study was to examine how participants see themselves (self-ratings), their close friends (ratings of friends), and are seen by friends (ratings by friends).

The following questions were asked in the course of the study: 1) Do the ratings of personality traits depends on оbservability and evaluatedness of traits? 2) Does the self-other agreement for HEXACO traits depends on their оbservability and evaluatedness?

Purpose of the Study

The analysis of the differences between self-ratings, ratings by friends and rating of friends is a preparatory stage for the actor-partner analysis of the HEXACO traits.

Research Methods


The sample consisted of university students and their close friends, as selected by the students themselves. They were given two criteria for the selection: the friend had to be a close friend, and the friend had to be of the same gender as the student.

The student and his or her friend filled out the HEXACO Personality Inventory Revised. Furthermore, each student would fill out the same questionnaire one more time, instructed to give the same answers they believed their friends to have given.

The sample consisted of 300 pairs of students and their friends. The students’ age ranged from 18 to 35 years old (M=19.8, SD=1.6); 86% were women; the friends age ranged from 15 to 40 years old (M=20.4, SD=3.0), 87% were women.


The Russian version of the HEXACO-PI-R questionnaire (Egorova et al., 2019), containing 100 items, was used. In this paper, we focus on 6 factor-level traits – Honesty–Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience.

We consider Honesty–Humility, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience to be traits with high evaluatedness and low оbservability; Emotionality has low оbservability and evaluatedness; Extraversion and Agreeableness are marked by high оbservability and evaluatedness.


Descriptive statistics

When comparing factor-level traits in students and their friends, it was demonstrated (Table 1 ), that students’ self-ratings showed higher Agreeableness and Conscientiousness than their friends’ self-ratings. The group of friends showed significantly more variability in Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, and Openness to Experience.

Table 1 -
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When comparing self- and other-ratings of the friends (Table 2 ), significant differences were obtained only for Openness to Experience: it is higher for self-ratings, i.e. the students’ friends see themselves as more open to new, unusual experiences, as those who assessed them believe them to be. This result is contrary to what was expected based on the SOKA framework, i.e. higher other-ratings for a personality trait with high evaluatedness.

Table 2 -
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The friends’ self-rating for Honesty-Humility shows more variability than the other-rating. This observation also does not meet expectations. It is commonly understood that other-ratings have lower variability than self-ratings. It is possible that the obtained result is rooted in the fact that the variability of the friends’ self-ratings in Openness to Experience was considerably higher than the students’ self-rating, and this affected the students’ assessment of their friends (i.e. the variability of the ratings).

When comparing the two assessments gathered from the students, i.e. their self-ratings and their ratings of friends (Table 3 ), we observe a difference in Openness to Experience: the students have rated this trait higher in themselves. For four of the six personality traits, the variability is higher for the other-ratings.

Table 3 -
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Intrapair correlations of self- and other-ratings

The results obtained in the course of the analysis of intrapair similarity for self- and other-ratings are demonstrated in Table 4 .

Table 4 -
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For all factor-level traits with the exception of Agreeableness, we found similarity between the self-ratings of the students and their friends’ self-ratings. The correlation coefficients are low, but statistically significant (.03<p<.008.). Thus, the friends show slight similarity in five of six reviewed personality traits.

Self- and other-ratings of the friends are similar for all HEXACO traits (p<.001). This shows that students know their friends well and can predict their answers in a personality inventory with sufficient accuracy.

The similarity of the students’ self-ratings and their ratings of their friends is higher than the similarity between the students’ and the friends’ self-ratings. However, in this case, there is also no similarity in Agreeableness scores.


Summarizing the results, we note that the self-ratings of the students and the self- and other-ratings of their friends show no differences in Honesty–Humility, Emotionality, and Extraversion. The students had rated themselves higher than their friends did on Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, but in their perception (other-ratings), their friends do not differ from them in this respect. For Openness to Experience, we observed the opposite: the students believed their Openness (self-rating) to be higher than their friends (other-ratings), while in fact students’ and their friends’ ratings in Openness to Experience did not differ.

The intrapair similarity between different ratings demonstrated that, firstly, the students know their friends well; secondly, the students and their friends show similarity, to some degree, for all HEXACO traits with the exception of Agreeableness; thirdly, the actual similarity between the students and their friends is lower than the students believe it to be.

Our results did not demonstrate that оbservability and evaluatedness were significant for self- and other-ratings.


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project 19-013-00274 Spouse, child-parent and sibling relationships: An actor-partner interdependence model.


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