The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure

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Developed by Mikkel Bjerregaard

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the definition of a personality trait is "a relatively stable, consistent, and enduring internal characteristic that is inferred from a pattern of behaviors, attitudes, feelings, and habits in the individual. The study of personality traits can be useful in summarizing, predicting, and explaining an individual’s conduct..." [1]. An individual's personality traits will have a great influence on an individual's behavior, attitudes, and decision-making processes. This means, that an individual's personality traits will directly affect a person's performance and effectiveness inside an organization. It is therefore important to understand and recognize the influence of different personality traits in an organization. This is also crucial while managing projects because effective teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution are necessary for success.

The success of a project heavily relies on people. Merely having the necessary processes and systems in place is not enough. If project team members fail to collaborate efficiently, the likelihood of project success diminishes considerably. Understanding the diverse range of personalities and how they interact with each other can aid project, program and portfolio managers in building a well-balanced teams that can collaborate efficiently [2]. Effective management of personality traits can lead to improved collaboration and communication among team members and better handling of conflicts. Managers can assign tasks and responsibilities that capitalize on each team member's strengths while being aware of their deficiencies, resulting in a more effective and productive team dynamic. Additionally, by adapting their management style to each team member's personality qualities, managers can increase team member motivation and job satisfaction [2].

It is critical to have a comprehensive framework for evaluating and comprehending personality features to identify and capitalize on these traits in the workplace. The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure is one such model that offers a structured method for comprehending personality and predicting behavior. Since the 1990s, there have been two predominant views about the question of personality structure, namely the "Big Five (OCEAN) Model" or "Five-Factor Model". Both of these positions are currently supported by much evidence to be incorrect. The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure, a six-dimensional framework, is supported by the outcomes of investigations into personality structure [3].


Origin and Development of the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure

A psychological model of personality called the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure was first presented by Belgian psychologists Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton in the late 1990s. In order to solve some of the shortcomings of the Big Five (OCEAN) Model, the model was developed as an extension of the Big Five Personality Traits. Based on the notion that personality can be described by six broad dimensions or characteristics rather than simply five, the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure was developed [4].

A thorough examination of personality descriptors in several languages served as the foundation for creating the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure Model. The study's goal was to list the most frequent and significant personality qualities that individuals use to describe others and themselves. This resulted in the HEXACO Personality Inventory, which used the findings to create a self-report questionnaire that allowed to assess the model's six dimensions [4].

Later on, the model was revised to include some changes to the way certain traits were initially defined also including changes to the scoring of the test. The purpose of these modifications was to further improve the model's suitability for use in a wider variety of cultural contexts. The HEXACO Personality Structure Model's original creators collaborated with additional experts in the field of personality psychology to create the updated version. Reviewing the body of research on personality structure and input from users of the original model helped shape the development of the new model. The updated model was created to provide further validity, dependability, and accuracy in assessing personality structure and more practical applications in various industries, including business, education, and healthcare [4].

The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure

Figure 1: The six HEXACO personality traits [5]

The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure is a widely accepted framework for comprehending and measuring individual personality differences. As an alternative to the Big Five (OCEAN) model, this model holds six dimensions divided into Facet-Level Scales, each representing a broad aspect of personality.

Honesty-Humility (H) is one such dimension that signifies the extent to which individuals are humble and unassuming compared to those who exhibit boastful and pretentious behavior. In assessing one's level of Honesty-Humility, factors like Sincerity, Fairness, Greed Avoidance and Modesty come into play. People who score high in this dimension demonstrate a tendency towards humility coupled with traits such as fairness and sincerity. They also eschew arrogance in favor of valuing interpersonal relationships rather than seeking personal gain or prestige. In contrast to these qualities are low-scoring individuals who may engage in self-promotion or manipulation while prioritizing pursuits of power and status[6].

Emotionality (E) is a fundamental dimension in characterizing individuals' personal traits with respect to their experience and expression of emotions as well as their ability to control them. The measures underlying this classification constitute fearfulness, anxiety, dependence, and sentimentality. Those maximizing scores on this measure are generally labeled warm-hearted personalities embodying compassionately sensitive attributes coupled with susceptibility to being moved by sentiments. Low-scoring individuals exhibit traits such as unemotionalism, detachedness and rationality. They tend towards insensitivity regarding other people's emotions while being highly unemotional in their approach to life. Empathy seems fleeting for them making them appear uninvolved with the emotional sensitivities of others [6].

Extraversion (X) as a metric aims at defining a person’s retention level when it comes to sociable behavior (or lack thereof). Extraversion is measured through four categories - Social Self-esteem, Social Boldness, Sociability and Liveliness. Individuals that obtain high scores in this dimension often acquire attributes such as being outgoing, energetic and assertive. Their temperament reflects those of sociable, confident individuals who have a highly expressive nature. These individuals prefer interacting with people and excel in social situations. People scoring low on this scale tend to be more introverted, reserved, less assertive, and talkative than their counterparts. They may appear quiet or unapproachable and tend to enjoy solitude while occasionally spending time with close friends[6].

Agreeableness (A) can be evaluated through the traits of Forgiveness, Gentleness, Flexibility, and Patience. Individuals who score high on this spectrum display cooperative behavior expressed by compassion and empathy for those around them. Valuing peaceful associations forms a critical aspect of their personalities that adds further value to their friendliness and amiability. In contrast, people with low scores exhibit competitive qualities expressed by aggressiveness and confrontation while holding limited regard for others' interests [6].

Conscientiousness (C) refers to an individual's ability to be dependable, responsible, and disciplined. This facet includes traits like being well-organized in managing tasks efficiently; displaying diligence by putting forth maximum effort into assignments; taking a perfectionist approach where the quality of work matters most and being prudent in finalizing decisions after thoroughly analyzing outcomes. Individuals scoring lower on Conscientiousness tend towards impulsiveness, and carelessness marked by substandard planning leading them into adverse scenarios requiring quick fixes. Inclination towards impulsive behavior, lack of organizational skills, and carelessness are common traits associated with an individual scoring low on this dimension. Their decision-making style is often rash and not well thought out leading them to be perceived as irresponsible or lacking discipline. [6].

Openness to Experience (O) is a metric that entails creativity appreciation, curiosity, and "thinking outside the box" mindset fostering an individual's imaginative flair for uncharted territories. Individuals scoring high on Openness to Experience are typically characterized as imaginative, curious, and open-minded. They possess a proclivity for creativity, and intellectualism and enjoy seeking out new experiences and ideas. Such characteristics render them innovative individuals with progressive outlooks. In contrast, low scorers often display conservative tendencies that border on being traditionalists while closed-mindedness is not uncommon among them. With little investigation into new ideas or experiences, they tend to lack imagination and may prefer the comfort of familiar territory [6].

It is worth mentioning that the HEXACO model, which has become increasingly popular in personality psychology and related areas, derives its name from the six factors it encompasses.

The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure as a measurement tool

Figure 2: THE HEXACO PERSONALITY INVENTORY - REVISED test results. Own Work. [7].

Based on the theoretical descriptive model, several researchers have developed questionnaires and scales to measure and interpret personality traits and correlations between behavior and personality. Among others are the following HEXACO measurement tools:

  • HEXACO Personality Inventory - Revised (HEXACO-PI-R) [8].
  • HEXACO-60 Personality Inventory [9].
  • HEXACO-100 Personality Inventory [10].

All tests assess personality concerning the HEXACO factors but are done differently with regard to the amount and appearance of question items. They vary from long-sentence questions in the HEXACO-PI-R to brief phrases in the HEXACO-60 Personality Inventory. Further, some tests are commercial, and others are created for non-commercial research purposes. The best validated HEXACO measures in the questionnaire tradition are the HEXACO-PI-R test.

The HEXACO-PI-R is developed by Michael Ashton and Kibeom Lee and is a 140-item questionnaire. Each item is a sentence that is rated using the Likert scale, a scale from 1 to 5 where one is equal to strongly disagree and five to strongly agree. The items fall under the six HEXACO factors, but the factors are further categorized into facets, giving a total of 30 facets. The HEXACO-PI-R is developed so the questionnaire can be assessed in two forms; a self-report called the S-form and an observer report called the R-form, getting both an internal and an external perspective of a person's personality and a comparison here off [11].

The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure vs. The Big Five (OCEAN) Model

Figure 3: The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure vs The Big Five (OCEAN) Model illustration. Own work.

The leading model of personality traits for many years has been the Big Five (OCEAN) model. This framework is acknowledged and accepted by scientists across different cultures and languages. Nevertheless, there have been criticisms about its ability to capture a complete understanding of human personality [12]. Therefore, an alternative, known as the HEXACO model of personality structure was developed as an extention to the Big Five (OCEAN) Model. With its ability to predict ethical behavior and reduce the occurrence of unethical actions, research has shown that the Honesty-Humility dimension is a vital component of human personality. On the other hand, the range of emotional experiences that comprise Emotionality makes it an essential aspect of understanding individuals' emotional makeup. Thus, unlike The Big Five model that lacks these dimensions, HEXACO offers a more detailed approach to comprehend human personalities; hence making it pivotal in various fields such as psychology, social science research, and business [12].


The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure has many applications, but in the context of project, program and portfolio management, the answers to a HEXACO questionnaire can be beneficial when assembling and leading a team. These questionnaires could include one of the following HEXACO measurement tools as explained in section "The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure as a measurement tool":

  • HEXACO Personality Inventory - Revised (HEXACO-PI-R) [8].
  • HEXACO-60 Personality Inventory [9].
  • HEXACO-100 Personality Inventory [10].

Since the organization depends on the team to meet predetermined goals, people are essential to success. Based on one of these HEXACO measurement tools, an organization can apply these results from each tool to enable a more informed hiring process and better management process toward their predefined goals. Understanding the diverse range of personalities and how they interact with each other can aid project, program and portfolio managers in building well-balanced teams that can collaborate efficiently [13].

The HEXACO Model in Project, Program and Portfolio Management

Recent years have seen a rise in interest in the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure due to its potential use in several industries, including project, program, and portfolio management. The model offers perceptions of a person's personality attributes, which can be helpful in project planning and execution. The application of the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure to project, program, and portfolio management will be covered in this part.

Project Management: Understanding team members' personalities is essential for project management to enable appropriate work delegation, collaboration, and communication. Project managers can utilize the HEXACO Model to determine the personality qualities of their team members and then use that knowledge to foster a positive and effective work environment. For instance, those who perform well on the Honesty-Humility scale may be good team players and collaborators. However, those who perform well on the Emotionality scale may be more sensitive to criticism and need more support. Project managers can adapt their leadership style and communication strategy to match the needs of each team member and enhance team performance by being aware of these characteristics [6].

Program Management: The HEXACO Model can be used in program management to evaluate the compatibility of various programs and projects to ensure they align with company goals. Programs with high levels of Extraversion may need more outreach and marketing efforts, whereas programs with high levels of Emotionality may need additional resources and support. Program managers may allocate resources wisely, prioritize programs, and guarantee effective outcomes by being aware of the personality qualities of the programs and projects [6].

Portfolio Management: The HEXACO Model can offer insightful information about an organization's culture and the personalities of essential stakeholders in portfolio management. Portfolio managers can customize their communication and decision-making strategies to achieve buy-in and support for portfolio objectives by studying the personality attributes of stakeholders. While stakeholders with high levels of Agreeableness may be more likely to support initiatives that align with the organization's values, those with high levels of Conscientiousness may be more detail-oriented and want a detailed explanation of portfolio projects [6].

Personnel Selection & Organizational Behaviour

The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure has been used in personnel selection to find appropriate people for particular positions or tasks. For tasks requiring diligence, responsibility, and organization, people high in conscientiousness are frequently viewed as good prospects. In contrast, people high in extraversion are frequently viewed as promising candidates for roles requiring sociability and assertiveness. Additionally, the model has also been applied to leadership selection processes. People with high Honesty-Humility scores are frequently viewed as the ideal candidates since they are less inclined to act selfishly and more likely to act in the interests of the group as a whole [6].

It has also been demonstrated that the HEXACO Model has significant consequences for various outcomes, including leadership, teamwork, and job performance. Studies indicate that individuals possessing elevated Honesty-Humility ratings are typically superior leaders due to their reduced penchant for egoism and increased proclivity toward actions promoting institutional interests. According to research, individuals with excessive emotions tend to be less successful leaders due to their susceptibility to burnout and emotional exhaustion. The HEXACO Model has also proven to be effective in predicting collaborative behavior and outcomes. Studies have shown that team agreeableness, conscientiousness and extraversion can be good predictors of higher performance in teams [14]. This can be found in teams, as highly agreeable people are more prone to cooperation due to better communication and cohesion. Highly conscientious people in teams are focused on completing their goals and problem-solving and thus help the group to stay committed to the task. Also, more extraverted people can positively impact team performance due to a focus on social interactions which facilitates group interaction [14].

Well-being Research

Utilizing the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure as a framework for analysis allows researchers to examine how various factors impact subjective well-being indicators among study participants. Among several findings is one indicating that emotionally sensitive individuals report experiencing negativity more often relative to those with low-intensity emotionality mentions. Furthermore, attributes such as humility and honesty correlate with increased happiness scores due to altruistic behavior toward others often associated with said traits. Lastly, people exhibiting more conscientiousness have consistently demonstrated higher levels of well-being and lower instances of stress-related illness patterns. Individuals possessing a greater degree of openness to experience are found to possess heightened levels of both creativity and cognitive flexibility [15].

Criticism and Limitations

Like any personality model, the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure has its limitations and critics. One common critique against this personality model and others like it is their inability to capture the full complexity of human personality [12]. Moreover, despite the model having been used in various cultures, there still may be cultural differences in the expression of personality traits that the model does not adequately address nor fully capture [16]. While the HEXACO Model is based on self-reported data through questionnaires, it may be prone to a myriad of biases that could potentially affect its validity as individuals could have a tendency for underreporting, overreporting, or difficulty assessing certain personality traits which are all examples of potential sources of bias that impacts the validity of the model. [16].

One of the main criticisms of the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure is whether the HEXACO Model provides a better framework for understanding and measuring personality traits than the well-established Big Five (OCEAN) model [16]. The HEXACO model has gained popularity due to its inclusion of the Honesty-Humility factor, which is believed to predict counterproductive workplace behaviors more accurately than the measures of the Big Five model. A meaningful subject that, according to critics, has not been adequately addressed is whether the HEXACO model and its factors and facets provide a more substantial validity or an overall better-explained proportion of variation than the Big Five (OCEAN) model related to predicting workplace behavior relevant to personality [12]. The understanding of the predictive potential of personality measures is constrained by the use of criteria measures in studies that demonstrate support for the HEXACO Model of Personality Structure that is susceptible to standard method variance or suffers from other types of contamination and deficiency. Noting that the model, like the Big Five model, does not encompass all personality traits, it is also significant to underline that a more profound comprehension of personality at a facet level is required [12].

Annotated Bibliography

  • The Stationery Office. 2017. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. The Stationery Office, GBR

This book gives a detailed guide for managing projects using the PRINCE2 methodology. PRINCE2 started as a widely used project management framework in the UK but has since been adopted internationally. This book covers all project management lifecycle phases from start to finish and includes a detailed guide on managing each stage of the process, as well as practical advice on how the framework can suit specific requirements.

  • Ashton MC, Lee K. Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure. Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2007 May;11(2):150-66

Michael Ashton and Kibeom Lee delve into the intricacies of personality structure models in this article. The focus here is on the HEXACO model and how it surpasses the Big Five model. The authors outline why this is the case by examining its advantages from empirical, theoretical, and practical perspectives.

  • Hough LM, Oswald FL, Ock J. Beyond the Big Five: New Directions for Personality Research and Practice in Organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2015.

This article discusses the limitations of the Big Five personality model and investigates alternative models such as the HEXACO model. In this article, the authors argue that the HEXACO model provides a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of personality traits, in particular in the context of organizational behavior. The article reviews the empirical evidence supporting the HEXACO model and discusses its potential applications in organizational research and practice.

  • Bell, S. T. (2007). Deep-Level Composition Variables as Predictors of Team Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 595-615. doi:10.1037/0021 9010.92.3.595

This article by Bell, S. T. presents a comprehensive meta-analysis aimed at examining how Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness impact team performance. According to the findings of this article all three personality traits have been shown to be positively related to successful teamwork.


  1. APA Dictionary of Psychology. Retrieved from:
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Stationery Office. 2017. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. The Stationery Office, GBR.
  3. Ashton, M.C. and Lee, K. (2008), The HEXACO Model of Personality Structure and the Importance of the H Factor. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2: 1952-1962
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ashton MC, Lee K. THE HEXACO PERSONALITY INVENTORY - REVISED. History of the Inventory. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Ashton MC, Lee K. Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure. Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2007 May;11(2):150-66. doi: 10.1177/1088868306294907. PMID: 18453460.. Retrieved from
  8. 8.0 8.1 Lee, K., & Ashton, M. C. (2012). The H factor of personality: Why some people are manipulative, self-entitled, materialistic, and exploitive—and why it matters for everyone. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ashton MC, Lee K. The HEXACO-60: a short measure of the major dimensions of personality. J Pers Assess. 2009 Jul;91(4):340-5. doi: 10.1080/00223890902935878. PMID: 20017063.. Retrieved from
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lee K, Ashton MC. Psychometric Properties of the HEXACO Personality Inventory. Multivariate Behav Res. 2004 Apr 1;39(2):329-58. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr3902_8. PMID: 26804579. Retrieved from
  11. Ashton MC, Lee K. THE HEXACO PERSONALITY INVENTORY - REVISED. Scale Descriptions Retrieved from
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Leaetta M. Hough, Frederick L. Oswald, Jisoo Ock. Beyond the Big Five: New Directions for Personality Research and Practice in Organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 2015 2:1, 183-209 Retrieved from
  13. The Stationery Office. 2017. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. The Stationery Office, GBR.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Bell, S. T. (2007). Deep-Level Composition Variables as Predictors of Team Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 595-615. doi:10.1037/0021 9010.92.3.595. Retrieved from
  15. Buca, A., Calin, M., & Mincu, L. (2016). The relationship between HEXACO model of personality and employee well-being. Romanian Journal of Experimental Applied Psychology, 7. Retrieved from
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Open peer commentary and author’s response. (2020). European Journal of Personality, 34(4), 511–590. Retrieved from
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